A Lecture held in Paris on June 14, 1906
IN THE COURSE OF THESE LECTURES
we have said repeatedly that Christianity constitutes the decisive
midpoint of human evolution. All religions have their right to exist
— they were partial revelations
of the Logos — but none has changed the face of the world as much
as Christianity. One can feel this influence in the words of John's
Gospel, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
The words, “those who have not seen,” refer to those
people who had no knowledge of the mystery religions. An essential part
of the ancient mysteries is made public through Christianity, for example,
the most important commandments concerning morality, and the teaching
concerning the immortality of the soul through resurrection or rebirth.
Before Christianity, one
could see super-sensible truth in the revelations, rites, and dramatic
presentations of the mysteries. Now, however, one can believe in the
super-sensible thanks to the divine person of Christ. There had always
been a difference between the esoteric truth known to initiates, and
its exoteric form — appropriate for the great masses — which
came to expression through the various religions. The same holds true
for Christianity. What is found in the Gospels is the new good tidings,
promulgated for all to hear. But there was a deeper teaching. It is
contained in the Apocalypse in the form of symbols.
There is a way to read
the Apocalypse that can be made public only in our time. It was cultivated
in the Middle Ages in the occult schools of the Rosicrucians. At that
time historical questions concerning the book were considered unimportant.
These were questions concerning its composition and the identity of the
author; in short, all that which occupies the sole interest of theologians
today, who seek nothing more than historical facts in this book. Modern
critical theology knows only the external shell of this book and ignores
the kernel. The Rosicrucians stayed with the prophetic aspect, the eternal
truth of the book.
Occultism is not usually
concerned with the history of a single century or a single era, but
rather with the inner history of human evolution as a whole. This is
true when it delves into the first manifestations of our planetary system,
when it looks into the distant past at the vegetative and animal conditions
of humanity, and when its perspective expands over millions of years
forward to a future when humanity will have become divine. The earth
itself will have changed then both in form and substance. But how can
the future be guessed? Is prophecy really possible? It is possible because
all that is to take place physically in the future already exists in
seed form in the womb of the archetypes whose thoughts form the plan
for our evolution. Nothing appears on the physical plane that was not
already planned and preformed in general outline in the region of devachan.
Nothing happens in the depths that did not exist before in the heights.
That is the way things are realized. They depend upon the freedom and
initiative of the individual.
is not based on vague and sentimental idealism but rather on a concrete
ideal that originates in knowledge of higher worlds. This is the knowledge
that the writer of the Apocalypse had, the great seer of Patmos, who
sketched the future of humankind in Christian perspective.
Let us consider this future
according to the laws of world creation just described. The Rosicrucians
first revealed to their pupils some visions from the past and the future.
Then the pupils were given the Apocalypse to interpret these visions.
Let us do the same and observe how humanity has become what it is, and
what future will open for it.
We have, for example,
spoken of the ancient Atlantean continent and of the Atlanteans whose
etheric body was far more developed than their physical body. Their
preliminary consciousness of self, their I-consciousness, came to them
only at the end of their culture. The successive post-Atlantean cultures
were: First, the pre-Vedantic culture in southern Asia, in India. That
was the beginning of the Aryan cultures; second, the epoch of Zarathustra,
including the culture of ancient Persia; third, the Egyptian culture,
the epoch of Hermes, to which are attached the Chaldean and Semitic
cultures. The first seeds of Christianity were sown during this age
in the womb of the Hebrew peoples; fourth, the Greco-Latin cultural
epoch that experienced the birth of Christianity; and fifth, a new epoch
was prepared at the time of the mass migrations and wars of conquest
in the fourth through the sixth centuries.
The legacy of the
Greco-Latin culture was taken over by the northern races: Celts, Germans,
and Slavs. This is the epoch in which we are now still living. It is a
slow transformation of the Greco-Latin cultural heritage brought about
through the powerful element of the new peoples under the mighty impulse
of Christianity. This impulse has also been mixed with the leaven of the
East brought to Europe through the Arabs. The actual goal of this cultural
epoch is to adapt the human being fully to the physical plane. This occurs
when our reason, our practical commonsense is developed and our intellect
delves into physical matter in order to understand and master it. In
the course of this hard work, this astonishing achievement that has
culminated in our time, human beings have momentarily forgotten the
higher worlds of their origin. By comparing our spiritual soul constitution
with that of the Chaldeans, for example, it is easy to see what we have
won and what we have lost. When Chaldean magicians observed the heavens,
which present for us nothing more than a problem in celestial mechanics,
they had an entirely different idea, an entirely different feeling,
one could say, a totally different experience than we. Where a modern
astronomer sees nothing more than a soulless machine, the ancient magicians
felt the harmony of the heavens depths as a divine, living being. When
they observed Mercury, Venus, the moon, or the sun, they saw not only
the physical light of these heavenly bodies, they perceived the planets'
souls as belonging to living beings, and they felt their own souls in
connection with these great beings of the firmament. They perceived
the influence of heavenly bodies as attraction and repulsion, like a
wonderful concert of streaming, flowing divine will; and the symphony
of the cosmos sounded forth in the magicians like a harmonious echo
of the human microcosm. In this way the music of the spheres was a reality
that united human beings with heaven.
The superiority of the
modern scholar is rooted in knowledge of the physical world, of matter.
Spiritual science has descended to the physical plane we know so well.
However, we must now be concerned with again achieving knowledge of
the astral plane through clairvoyance.
This descent into matter
was necessary for the fifth epoch to fulfill its mission. Astral and
spiritual clairvoyance had to be veiled so that the intellect could
develop itself on the field of the sense world through minute, mathematical
observation of the physical world.
Now we must supplement
natural science with spiritual science. Here is an example: Ptolemy's
map of the heavens is usually placed next to that of Copernicus and
then the former is declared to be false. This is, however, not true.
They are equally justified. Ptolemy's map is concerned with the
astral plane wherein the earth forms the center point of the planets
and the sun is itself a planet. Copernicus's map is concerned
with the physical plane where the sun is in the middle. All truths are
relative according to time and place. Ptolemy's system will be
rehabilitated in an epoch yet to come.
After our fifth epoch
another will come, the sixth, which will be related to ours as a
spiritually minded soul is related to a rationally inclined soul. This
epoch will bring genius, clairvoyance, the creative spirit, to development.
How will Christianity appear in the sixth epoch? There was a harmonious
union of science and faith for the ancient priests of the pre-Christian
age. Science and faith were one and the same thing. When the ancient
priests observed the firmament they knew and felt that the soul was
a drop of water that had fallen from the heavenly ocean and had been
led down to earth by immeasurable rivers of life that flow through space.
Today, when our sight is directed only to the physical world, faith
needs a free space, a religion. For this reason science and faith are
separated. The faithful reverence of the person of Christ, the god of
the human being on the earth, has for a certain time taken the place
of occult science and the mysteries. But the two streams will be united
in the sixth epoch. The mechanical science of the physical plane will
be elevated to the heights of spiritual creative power. That will be
gnosis or spiritual knowledge. This sixth epoch will be radically different
from ours. Great, tumultuous catastrophes will precede it, for the sixth
epoch will be just as spiritual as ours is materialistic, but such a
transformation can only occur through great, physical upheavals. Everything
that will be formed in the course of the sixth epoch will call into
existence the possibility of a seventh epoch which itself will form
the end of these post-Atlantean cultures and will know completely different
conditions of life from our own. This seventh epoch will end with a
revolution of the elements, similar to the one that brought an end to
the Atlantean continent. The condition of the earth that will then appear
will have a spirituality prepared through the last two post-Atlantean
The Aryan cultures encompass
seven great epochs. We see the laws of evolution slowly unfolding. Human
beings always carry within themselves what they will see around them
in future times. All that presently exists around us actually came forth
from us in preceding ages when our being was still united with the earth,
the moon, and the sun. This cosmic being, from which the present human
being together with all the kingdoms of nature have arisen, is called
in the Kabbala, “Adam Kadmon.” All of the manifold forms
of men and women presently represented by ethnic groups and races were
contained in this human archetype.
What human beings possess
today as their inner soul life, their thoughts, their feelings, will
similarly be revealed externally and become the environment in which
people live. The future resides in the hearts of men and women. The
choice is ours to decide for a future of good or of evil. Just as it
is true that the human being once left behind something that then became
the world of animals, so too, what is evil in the human being will one
day form a kind of degenerate humanity. At the present time we can more
or less hide the good or evil within us. A day will come when we can
no longer do this, when the good or the evil will be written indelibly
on our forehead, on our body, and even on the face of the earth. Humanity
will then be split into two races. In the same way that we encounter
boulders or animals today, in the future we will encounter beings of
pure evil and ugliness. When a human being's facial features become
an expression of that individual's karma, then people will separate
themselves according to the stream in which they apparently belong.
Everything depends on whether human beings have conquered the lower
nature within them or whether this lower nature has triumphed over the
Beginning in the past
we can see the lines of a future reality beginning to form. To the extent
that we are prepared to understand the past and to work in the present
we can realize the ideal of this future reality. A new race will be
formed that will constitute the connecting link between present-day
humanity and the spiritualized human being of the future. But one must
distinguish between the evolution of races and the evolution of souls.
It lies within the freedom of every single soul to develop itself toward
this external form of a race, whose character corresponds to the good
that it will incarnate. Individuals will belong to this race only through
the exercise of their free will and through a great exertion of their
soul forces. Membership in a race will no longer be forced upon a soul,
but rather it will be the result of an individual's evolution.
The meaning of Manichean
teaching is that, from now on, souls should prepare themselves to transform
into good the evil that will appear in its full strength in the sixth
epoch. Indeed, it will be necessary for human souls to become strong
enough to protect, through a spiritual alchemy, the good from the evil
that will come to light.
The evolution of our planet
earth will lead it back through the former phases of its development
in reversed order. First the earth will unite with the moon, then a
union — a reunion — of this mixed-world body with the sun
will occur. The reuniting of the moon with the earth will coincide with
a high tide of evil on the earth. In contrast to this, the union of
the earth with the sun will mark the beginning of blessed happiness,
the reign of the chosen people.
Human beings will bear
the mark of the seven great phases of earth evolution. The book of the
seven seals spoken of in the Apocalypse will be opened. The woman dressed
in the sun and with the moon under her feet is related to the time when
the earth will be united again with the sun and the moon. The trumpets
of the last judgment will sound forth, for the earth will have arrived
in a devachanic condition, where tone, not light, will rule. The end
of earthly evolution will stand in the sign of the Christ principle
that will permeate all of humankind. Human beings will have become
similar to Christ; they will gather around Christ like a multitude around
the lamb, and the New Jerusalem will arise as the fruit of this evolution.
It represents the crowning of the world.