Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 16, 1908:
Monday, April 16, 2018
In the beginning was the Word
The Influence of Spiritual Beings upon Man. Lecture 5
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 16, 1908:
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 16, 1908:
In the last lecture we spoke in broad outline of the development of the human being in connection with the evolution of the cosmos. One can look at such things from the most varied points of view. For when we let our spiritual gaze sweep back into the primeval past, then a no less rich manifoldness of events is presented to us than in our immediate present, and one must not think that when one has characterized phases of evolution with a few concepts and ideas that one has fully grasped the matter or presented it completely. It is necessary to characterize these past ages too, and up to our present day, from the most varied aspects. We then become increasingly clear about them, but must not let ourselves be misled by what appear here and there to be contradictions.
Such apparent contradictions arise from the fact that even to spiritual vision a matter can be seen from very varied aspects. One can walk around a tree, for instance, and make a picture of it from many sides. Each picture is true, and there may be a hundred of them. This is naturally only a comparison, but in a certain respect it is perfectly right for the ages of earthly evolution to be considered too from many different aspects. Today we will consider the evolution of our Earth in connection with the evolution of mankind from a different point of view, and will pay special attention to the human being himself. We will describe the processes which are presented in what we call the Akashic Record when we look back in spiritual vision to the past.
We have often related that our Earth before it became “Earth” went through a series of embodiments. First came the Saturn period, the Sun period, the Moon period, and only then our actual Earth period.
If we quite briefly look back to the time of ancient Saturn we remember that of the elements and bodily conditions which we find on the earth today, of the solid or earthy, the fluid or watery, the airy and the fiery, only warmth, fire, was present on ancient Saturn. We have the true picture of the first embodiment of the Earth if we realize the following: Saturn had nothing in it of the gaseous, the watery, nor of the earthy constituents. If you could have visited ancient Saturn, that is to say, supposing you could have been a modern human being at that time — as you neared old Saturn you would have found nothing of hardened, or watery, or any other substance, but a globe consisting purely of warmth; you would have gone into a sort of baking oven. You would have felt that you came into a different region of warmth. Thus old Saturn consisted purely of fire or warmth.
On the Sun, which was the second embodiment of our Earth, the warmth had already reached such a densification that we can speak of a gaseous or airy condition. The Moon condition showed a watery stage of our substances in its earlier period, and I have already told you how the Sun-substance went out of the old Moon and how then there suddenly came about a powerful densification of all Moon-beings.
The chief thing for us today is to be clearly conscious that at every later stage of evolution the earlier must in a certain way be recapitulated. So when we look back at the evolution of our Earth itself we have at the beginning a kind of Saturn stage, a repetition of the Saturn stage. Then we have a kind of Sun evolution, a repetition of the Sun stage, then a kind of Moon evolution, a repetition of the Moon stage, and only then really began the present embodiment of our Earth evolution. As our Earth came out of the Pralaya, the twilight condition which it passed through after being Moon, our Earth too was again only a ball of fire. I have given you a description of how the other planets had loosed themselves. Let us first hold fast to the fact that the Earth was purely a fiery ball containing nothing but warmth substance. Within this warmth ball of fire the human being was potentially already in existence. As the first rudiment of man was present on Saturn, so now in the recapitulation of the Saturn condition on the Earth, again man was present. There was no other kingdom. Man is the first-born of the Earth condition. At the beginning of our earthly evolution there was no plant kingdom, no animal kingdom, no mineral kingdom. Our Earth at the beginning of its evolution was in fact composed only of human bodies.
What then is the difference between the old Saturn condition and its recapitulation on Earth? There is a considerable difference, for the human bodies which then came forth, as fresh plants develop from seeds, had passed through the three earlier stages of evolution. Their formation was essentially more diverse, more complex, for all the forces which were at work in Saturn were present in this first Earth condition. Within it too were the old Sun and old Moon. They united at the beginning of Earth evolution, forming again a single body; the forces of Saturn, Sun, and Moon worked in it together. And so this first humanity at the beginning of Earth evolution was much more complex than the human being of Saturn. In Saturn all was undifferentiated — everything then was Saturn man. Now Saturn, Sun, and Moon worked together in the newly arisen Earth. Man arose in his first rudiments, although these rudiments were very complex.
When the Earth emerged and lifted itself, so to speak, out of the darkness of cosmic space, it was a space glowing with inner warmth, and living within it were the first forms of mankind as warmth-beings. When with clairvoyant sight you look back at what actually existed of man at that time you find at first these original human rudiments as if the whole warmth sphere had many, many currents in it. These currents go toward the surface of the newly arisen Earth, sink into the surface, and form there masses warmer than the surroundings. The human being was distinct from the environment simply through the fact that one felt that certain spaces were warmer. It may be clearer for you to realize to what extent man was then in existence if I record which of the human organs had been formed in its first rudiments at that time.
Think of a newborn child which still has a quite soft place on the top of the head. Imagine this place quite open, and imagine a warmth-current coming from outside into this opening. Think of the warmth-current not densely material in bloodstreams, but in streams of force going down and forming a kind of center where your own heart is and taking its course in separate arteries — not blood arteries, but force-arteries. There you have the first rudiments of warmth-man. Later on, in the progress of evolution, the human heart with its blood vessels arose from this rudimentary warmth-man. The blood circulation has arisen from it, and the organ which existed for a long time in man's evolution and which later disappeared was a shining warmth-organ, though in its first rudiments. Much later in earthly evolution the human being still had such an organ. At the place still remaining soft in the head of an infant a kind of warmth-organ projected from man when as yet he was unable to see his surroundings. When he was still a sea-being and could not perceive in our present way, when he still swam about in the sea, he had to know of the temperature conditions, whether he might move toward a certain direction or not. He was made aware by this lantern-like organ whether he might go here or there. Man possessed this organ right into the third epoch, the Lemurian Age. I once told you that the legend of the Cyclops — the human being with the one eye — went back to this stage. It was no real eye, and to describe it as an eye is not correct. It was a sort of warmth-organ which indicated the directions which might be taken. So we should have something like a goblet-shaped organ spreading out downwards to the first rudiments of the heart, and surrounded by something like prehensile arms, while up above one would have a sort of blood-organ. This was the appearance of the organ in the earliest periods.
Now in the course of the evolution of the Earth something very important entered. Matter, substance, became differentiated. The homogeneous warmth-matter was differentiated in such a way that air-matter arose while a part of the earlier warmth-matter remained. And here you must be aware of a law: you must be quite clear about it if you wish to consider these human beginnings in the course of evolution: Wherever the warmth-matter densifies to air, then at the same time light arises. — Warmth-matter is still dark, not permeated by light. But when a portion of the warmth in such a cosmic sphere condenses to gas or air, then a portion of this matter can let light come through. And so it was.
Now we have the Earth in the second stage of its evolution. (All other aspects go parallel with it.) We have now an Earth which consisted partly of warmth, partly of air, and shining inwardly. And all that takes place is expressed at the same time in the development of man. What was formerly merely a rudimentary warmth-organ now began actually to shine. The human being was like a kind of lantern; he shone. One need not find this particularly marvelous; it is no longer anything extraordinary. A few centuries ago one would have been amazed to hear of luminous beings, but there is no cause for amazement today. Natural science knows that down in the ocean depths, where it is impossible for a ray of light to penetrate, there are beings which shine, shedding their own light. And thus at that time the human being began to radiate light.
Now something extremely peculiar came about on this human formation: the rudiments were added for making use of the surrounding air. This was further developed later, and the beginnings of a breathing process were formed. Thus we see a sort of breathing process added to the previous warmth process. It is important to be clear that with the deposit of air in the Earth the breathing process appeared, and that this in fact was the addition of air to the warmth-matter, permeating the warmth with little bubbles of air. This, however, is connected with something else: the effect of the light is there too and is manifested in the first beginnings of a nerve-system, an inner nerve-system. Not indeed a physical nerve-system; it is more a case of lines of force which have developed to densification. You must think of the whole as airy and only very fine air-currents can be there as lines of force. Thus we have now a rudimentary human being which in all fineness was still etherically a being of warmth and air and in which the first signs of a nervous system were shown. That was the stage of our earthly evolution when the Sun was still in the Earth. Imagine how this cosmic body appeared in universal space.
Imagine that someone looked across at this cosmic body from outside. All the beings which we have just described as the human beings radiated an individual light, and this light became the total light that shone out into the universe. If you could have examined the Saturn-condition you would have found that you could approach without seeing it; it could only be perceived through its warmth. But now you have to do with a Sun-body, inwardly warmed but sending its light out into space.
Now gradually came the time which I have described to you as the departure of the sun. All the higher beings who were connected with the sun and who gave the human beings the capacities of which we have just spoken, detached themselves, together with the finer substances. The sun went out. It no longer shone and spread out light; it went out of the earth.
So then we have a cosmic body which consisted of earth and moon, for the present moon was at that time still in the earth. And something very remarkable came about. Since all the finer forces had gone out with the sun, a very rapid — relatively rapid — densification resulted. What were earlier only lines of force took on a thicker form. And as the finer substances went away we see how the gaseous condition condensed to water. The whole body now consisted not only of fire and air but of water, too. The force of illumination had gone out with the departing sun, and there was again darkness on the earth; the beings had kept for themselves inwardly only a portion of the light-force. This was an interesting stage of humanity's evolution. I. have shown that the light laid the foundation of the nervous system. The nervous system is a creation of the light. In all your nerves you have the original streaming-in of the light. Now the light, the sun, went out into cosmic space, and substance therefore densified very rapidly. It was not yet the same as the nerve-substance of today, but it was denser than before, it was no longer a fine etheric substance. And the important thing was this: formerly it shone outwards; now it became luminous inwardly. That means that man's first nerve-system had the power of creating inner light-pictures, visions; clairvoyant consciousness arose.
Thus the sun went out of the earth, left the earth without light, but the beings created an inner light. Formerly they had shone out to the light that shone toward them; now they had lost the power of shining. The earth was no longer sun; but their inner consciousness was illumined, as today in sleep you illumine your consciousness with the whole world of dreams. This inner shining consciousness, however, was at that time infinitely more significant, more living. And now we come again to an important matter.
Just as light had arisen when the air arose, so now with the densification of air to water there likewise appeared a counterpart. As air is related to light, so is water related to sound, tone. Sound can of course pass through air: it sets the air vibrating and in that way it becomes audible. On the earth, however, sound arose — sound as such — side by side with the forming of water. And exactly as the action of light streamed through the air, so now the whole of the water to which the air had condensed was vibrated through and through by the currents of tone. The earth consisted then of warmth, air, water. The parts of the earth which had become fluid were in particular permeated by sphere-harmonies, by tones which streamed into the earth from the universe in every possible harmony. The result of this action of sound in the water-element was a very, very important one. You must picture to yourselves that in this original water, this fluid-earthly water, were contained all those substances which exist separately today as metals, minerals, and so on. It is extremely interesting to look back with spiritual vision to this ancient time and see how the most varied shapes were formed. Tone created forms in the water. It was a quite amazing period of our earth's evolution. Something took place then on the grandest scale similar to what happens when you strew fine sand on a metal plate and stroke the plate with a violin bow. The Chladni sound-figures are formed, and you know of course what regularly shaped figures and formations appear. Thus the instreaming music from cosmic space gives rise to most manifold forms and figures, and the substances dissolved in the water, which were themselves watery, they listened to the cosmic music and arranged themselves in conformity to it. The most important formation of the dance of the substances to cosmic music is albumen, protoplasm, the foundation of all living growth. Materialists may think as they will of the mechanical construction of albumen from oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and so on; the original protoplasm was formed of cosmic substance that had been formed from the harmonies of cosmic music. And thus the substances in the living were organized according to the world-music. The albuminous substance, protoplasm, now surrounded and entered into the fine structures, penetrating everything. The water, congealed to albumen according to cosmic tone, took its course along the lines which I described as lines of warmth and gradually passed over into blood formation. The congealed water established itself as albumen in the lines of the nerves. And in the first place the albumen formed a kind of sheath, cartilaginous gluten, one might say, as a protection from outside. All this actually took form from the dance of substances to the music of the spheres.
This was all in existence before there was a single cell. The cell is not the origin of the organism, but what I have just described. The origin of the organism is spirit, first existing as warmth, then indicated more in lines of force, then what arose from the sphere-harmonies through the arrangement of substances, depositing itself in these lines of force, and only relatively later as the final formation the cell arose. The cell as the last excretion had to be born from a living creature. Organisms have never formed themselves out of cells, but the cell has first formed itself from the living. The anatomical is always a sequel of combination.
We have all this at the beginning of the condition of the earth when it still contained the moon after the departure of the sun. But as long as the moon remained in the earth there was an increasing hardening of the albuminous formation, and the state that I have described to you as mummifying would have resulted if the coarsest substances and beings had not left the earth. The last developed portion of the human creature at that time were the nerves that went to the sense organs. But the sense organs had not yet opened. They had been formed from within outwards, but as yet they were not open. And now the moon went out together with the coarsest substances. The consequence was that the human being could then gradually pass over to a higher condition. His senses were opened; the two heavenly bodies were now outside and could hold a mutual balance. Whereas they built up man as long as they were united with the earth, they now worked in from outside; they opened his senses and made him a seeing, hearing being as he appears to us today. The departure of the moon was practically in the middle of the ancient Lemurian Age. We then have a human being who had not yet opened his sense-organs but who had a powerful gift of clairvoyance. I have already described how he could fill his consciousness with most varied color and warmth phenomena from within, all of which had real worth and significance, yet he could not perceive the objects in space. That only began after the moon had left the earth.
If you consider this brief sketch which I have given you of the ancient earth-evolution you will see that present man actually took his starting point as earthly being from the heart outwards. The heart was of course not such an organ as it is today; that only developed much later, but the rudiments of the heart proceeded from the fire-element. Then were added the breathing system born of the air, the nerve-system born of the light. Then came the protoplasmic material which inserted itself into the organs and formed the whole to living matter through the cosmic tones congealing the fluid substances. In the final period, when the moon substance was still present in the earth, densification to the condition of earthy solidness came about. It was actually only shortly before the departure of the moon that what today we call the mineral kingdom arose, that is, the earth element out of the fluid element. Albumen is in fact a state midway between the solid and the fluid. But the earthy, the solid, actually arose only in the latest period. Why was that? It arose because under the influence of densification — for everything was involved in a continuous process of condensation — the elements themselves had become more and more material. Think for a moment of the beginning of Earth-evolution. What did the warmth-matter do there? It gave you for your bodily nature that which now pulsates in your blood. You must not think that when we speak of the earliest warmth condition of the Earth we are speaking of such a warmth as arises when you strike a match. That is mineral-fire and mineral-warmth. We are speaking of the fire and warmth that pulsates in your blood; that is living warmth. In fact there is not only the mineral warmth that arises externally in space, but there is a very different one, a living warmth which you have in yourselves. That was present at the beginning of the Earth and from it were formed the first rudiments of man. But even this living warmth gradually became lifeless with the continuous densification. That was connected with the densifying process which came about when the sun went out and the moon was united with the earth. The mineral warmth first appeared as the process of combustion.
Here we come to something important which I ask you particularly to note. It is true that at the beginning we can talk of a condition of fire, of warmth, but we cannot speak actually of combustion. That would not be correct. We should speak only of what we feel pulsing warmly in our own blood. The warmth that comes from an external mineral combustion appeared only when the sun had gone out and the earth was alone with the moon. And through the combustion process, formerly not there at all, a substance was separated off within the earth-mass which is described in occultism as “ash.” When you burn something it gives rise to ash. The ash embedded itself in the structure of the earth when earth and moon were united. Evolution had now got so far that through the cosmic tone which pressed in and brought the substances to dance, the protoplasmic masses inserted themselves. There were beings where fine protoplasmic substances had earlier become organized along the lines of force, this protoplasm being similar in outer formation to the formation of the present albumen. There were also denser substances which acted as a protection, surrounding the beings like a sort of glutinous sheath.
What is lacking in these beings? The hard bone substance! If I may express myself popularly, everything was still more of a glutinous mass, and anything of a mineral nature was entirely absent from them up to the time I have now described to you. Now, you must think how different these beings were. You have nothing in your physical body today that is not permeated by mineral substance. The human body as it is today has arisen only relatively late. It consists not only of bones but of muscles and blood; mineral substance has embedded itself in everything. Think the mineral substance away, think of the whole Earth and its beings as yet without mineral substance — and then by a combustion process the deposit of ash, ash of the most varied mineral substances. In the human beings, therefore, which up to then had in fact only arrived at a glutinous density, ash constituents became embedded in every direction. And the beings absorbed the ash as formerly they had taken up the albumen and organized themselves in their own way — took up the mineral element from the dense bones to the fluid blood.
You can easily form an idea of what was embedded — all that remains behind as ash when the body is burnt or decays. What actually remains behind as ash is what originated the last of all. Everything in you that does not remain behind as ash was there previously; it stored up the ash in itself. One who observantly regards the ash derived from a moldering corpse must say to himself: that is the mineral substance in me, which was last of all absorbed by what existed previously. Thus the mineral arose last in the course of the earth's development and the other kingdoms stored it up in themselves, having previously consisted entirely of other substances.
We can ask what was the reason of this incorporation of the ash. We carry ash within us the whole time, only it is distributed and is left behind when our corpse is burnt or decays. How did the ash press into the lines which were filled by albuminous substance?
We have seen that originally there was fire, and the rudiments of the heart were formed from it. Then the rudimentary stage of breathing was produced by the air; light entered and formed the rudiments of the nerves. Then came sound and produced the living substance by causing the materials to dance. But what caused the ash-element, the mineral, to stream into this substance?
What pressed ash into the human bodies was now henceforth thought, which made the sound, the tone, into the word. Even in Atlantean times, when everything was immersed in mist, what the human being spoke was not the only articulated language, but man understood the speech of the rustling trees, the rippling springs and founts. All that today is articulated language, and all that was expressed in it, formed the dance; tone, the musical element in it, formed the materials into living substance. The sense, the significance, of the word pressed into this living substance the ash that formed out of the combustion process. And to the degree in which the bony system gradually condensed toward the end of the Atlantean Age, man was penetrated by thoughts, by self-consciousness. His intellect dawned and he became increasingly a self-conscious being. The things that exist in us are created from outside: First, the rudiments which develop into the human heart; second, our nervous system with the rudiments of breathing; third, the glandular organs, arising out of the living; fourth, the bony structure, permeated by ash; finally, man becomes a self-conscious being. Such was the course of evolution within our own Earth-embodiment, and we have now arrived in our description nearly at the end of the Atlantean time.
If you compare this with our earlier studies, you will see that what is active last was always there first; for that which pressed into matter as “Word” was there the first of all. That which has given man his ego was there at the very beginning. If you try clearly to understand what has been said today you can also very readily find the facts again in the first sentences of St. John's Gospel. In one of our next lectures we must show how our studies which have swept out into cosmic space are beautifully presented in the Gospel of St. John and also in the first sentences of Genesis. All these things are regained for us when we consider the course of evolution. One thing, however, will plainly emerge: When we look at the facts, our human evolution is seen to be very different from what materialistic fantasy imagines. Materialists think that man has been produced from coarse matter and that his spiritual faculties have been developed out of it.
You see now that the actual mission of earthly evolution, that in which Love comes to expression in man, was laid down first in what we possessed as warmth organ, which emerged the first of all. Before anything organic, Spirit was there in the form of lines of force; then came the incorporation of the organic under the wonder-working of world music. Then only was the whole impregnated with mineral substance, solid matter, through the Word or thought. The densest arises the latest. Man develops out of the Spirit, and this is seen too if we study the course of earthly evolution. Man has his origin and primal state — as every genuine study of the universe has always shown — not in matter but in Spirit. Matter embedded itself in the human being later than the spiritual forces, and this becomes increasingly clear from what we have been studying.