Wednesday, February 27, 2019
The Mission of the Earth: To Build the Astral Body, the Etheric Body, and the Physical Body of Christ through Wonder, Compassion, and Conscience
Earthly and Cosmic Man. Lecture 6 of 9.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 14, 1912:
The question as to the meaning and purpose of existence frequently arises in life and in the sphere of philosophy. Study of Spiritual Science will certainly produce a kind of humility in regard to this question, for although we know that investigation of the spiritual worlds leads thought and perception beyond the material world of sense, we also realize that it is not possible to speak forthwith about the primal origins or the ultimate and highest meaning of life. The retort of superficial thinking here will certainly be: “What, then, do we know, if knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life is beyond our reach? ”
An analogy that is entirely in line with the attitude of Spiritual Science and indicates what is permissible or not permissible in regard to this question can be put in the following way: Suppose a man wants to journey somewhere — in his home town he can only get information as to how to reach a much less distant place, but he is sent off with the assurance that once there, further help will be available. Although he makes inquiries here and there as he goes along, he cannot know the exact path which will bring him to his final destination; nevertheless he is sure of arriving eventually because he is always able to find his way from place to place.
As students of Spiritual Science, we do not ask about the “ultimate goal” but about the one lying immediately ahead, in other words, about the goal of the Earth. We realize that it would be senseless to inquire about the “ultimate goal” for we have recognized that “evolution” is a reality in the life of man. It must therefore never be forgotten that at the present stage of our existence it is not possible to understand the goals of much later phases of evolution and that a higher vantage-point must be reached if we are to understand the meaning of a far-distant goal. And so we ask about the goal lying immediately ahead, realizing that by keeping it before us as an ideal and striving with the right means, we shall eventually attain it, thereby reaching a further stage in development. At that stage it will be legitimate to ask about the “next” goal, and so on. Thus if it were ever suggested that Spiritual Science might tend to make a man arrogant because his outlook extends beyond the ordinary world into a spiritual world, in reality his attitude will be one of humility toward these sublime matters about which superficial questions are so often asked.
We inquire, to begin with, about the goal of the Earth. In other words: What is it that man adds, essentially, to the fruits of the preceding periods of Saturn-, Sun-, and Moon-evolution, by developing on the Earth through repeated physical incarnations? We will here recall certain matters which will help us to associate concrete and definite ideas with what may be called the “meaning and purpose of Earth evolution.” Let me speak, to begin with of the following.
When intellectual thinking, based upon reason, came to birth during the Graeco-Latin epoch — it would actually be true to say, in the sixth century B.C. — a certain thought found frequent utterance, namely, that all philosophy, all deeper contemplation upon the secrets of existence, proceeds from Wonder, Amazement. In other words: So long as the human being can feel no wonder at the phenomena of life around him, so long is his life vapid and thoughtless, and he asks without intelligence about the why and wherefore of existence. “All philosophy begins with wonder” was a much-quoted saying during the ancient Graeco-Latin epoch. What, in reality, does it signify in man's life of soul?
It would be difficult today to find anyone in civilized Europe who has never set eyes on a locomotive in motion; not so very long ago, however, there were such persons — although nowadays they would, of course, only be found in very remote districts. If such a person sees a train moving along, he will feel wonder and amazement at the sight of an object going forward without any of the means with which he is acquainted. It is a known fact that many such people, in their astonishment at seeing a locomotive in movement, asked if the horses pulling it along were inside! Why were the people cast into amazement and wonder by what they saw here? It was because they were looking at something which in a certain sense was known, and at the same time unknown to them. They knew that things move forward, but whatever they had seen had always been provided with quite a different means of movement. Now they were looking at something on which they had never set eyes before. And this gave rise to wonder.
If during the Graeco-Latin epoch, men could only become philosophers when they were capable of wonder, they must have been persons who perceived, in everything taking place in the world, something at once known and unknown, in so far as the happenings and phenomena seemed to contain more than appeared on the surface — something unknown to them.
Why had the attitude of the philosophers to be that the primary causes and certain attributes of things in the world lay in a sphere unknown to them? As it will be admitted that philosophers are at least as clever as people who give no thought at all to what goes on around them, it cannot be supposed that philosophers are capable of accepting only what is to be perceived by means of the ordinary senses. Therefore they must find something lacking — or rather, they must surmise the presence of something which sets them wondering — something that is not present in the world of sense. And so, before the days of materialism, the philosophers always sought for the supersensible in the phenomena presented to the senses. The wonder felt by the philosophers, therefore, is associated with the fact that certain things are not to be comprehended through what presents itself to the eyes of sense. They said to themselves: “What I there perceive does not tally with what I picture it to be; I must therefore conceive that supersensible forces are present within it.” But in the world of sense the philosophers perceived no supersensible forces. That alone is enough to make a thinking man realize that a subconscious memory, not reaching into consciousness, has persisted in the human being since times when the soul perceived something more than the actual phenomena of the sense-world. In other words: Remembrance arises of experiences undergone before the descent into sense-existence. It is as though the soul were to say: “I discern things and their effects which can only call forth wonder in me, because they are different from what I have seen before; enlightenment on them can only be found by means of forces which must be drawn from the supersensible world.” And so all philosophizing begins with wonder, because in reality man approaches the phenomena of existence as a being who comes into the world of the senses from a supersensible world and finds that the things of the sense-world do not tally with what he perceived in the supersensible world. Wonder arises in him when the form in which the things of sense are made manifest can only be explained by knowledge he once possessed in a supersensible world. And so wonder points to the connection of man with the supersensible world, to something belonging to a sphere he can only enter when he transcends the world in which his physical body encloses him. This is one indication of the fact that here, in this physical world, there is a continual urge within the human being to reach out beyond himself. A man who can only remain shut up in himself, who is not driven by wonder beyond the field of the “I,” of the ordinary ego, remains one who cannot reach beyond himself, who sees the sun rise and set without a thought and with complete unconcern. This is the kind of existence led by uncivilized peoples.
A second power which releases the human being from the ordinary world, leading him at once away from material perception into supersensible insight, is compassion, fellow-feeling. (Of this, too, I have spoken.) Those who go heedlessly through the world do not regard compassion as having any great mystery about it; but to the thoughtful, compassion is a great and mysterious secret. When we look at a being only from outside, impressions come from him to our senses and intellect; with the awakening of compassion we pass beyond the sphere of these impressions. We share in what is taking place in his innermost nature, and transcending the sphere of our own “I”, we pass over into his world. In other words: we are set free from ourselves, we break through the barriers of ordinary existence in the physical body and reach over into the other being. Here, already, is the supersensible — for neither the operations of the senses nor of the reasoning mind can carry us into the sphere of another's soul. The fact that compassion exists in the world bears witness that even in the world of sense we can be set free from ourselves, can pass out beyond ourselves and enter into the world of another being. If a man is incapable of compassion, there is a moral defect, a moral lack in him. If at the moment when he should get free from himself and pass over into the other being, feeling, not his own pain or joy but the pain or joy of that other — if at that moment his feelings fade and die away, then something is lacking in his moral life. The human being on Earth, if he is to reach the stature of full and complete manhood, must be able to pass out beyond his own earthly life, he must be able to live in another, not only in himself.
Conscience is a third power whereby the human being transcends what he is in the physical body. In ordinary life he will desire this or that; according to his impulses or needs he will pursue what is pleasing and thrust aside what is displeasing to him. But in many such actions he will be his own critic, in that his conscience, the voice of his conscience, sounds a note of correction. Final satisfaction or dissatisfaction with what he has done also depends upon how the voice of conscience has spoken. This in itself is a proof that “conscience” is a power whereby the human being is led out beyond the sphere of his impulses, his likes and dislikes.
Wonder and Amazement, Compassion or Fellow-feeling, Conscience — these are the three powers by means of which the human being, even while in the physical body, transcends his own limitations, for through these powers, influences which cannot find entrance into the human soul by way of the intellect and the senses ray into physical life.
It is easy to understand that these three powers can only unfold through incarnations in a body of flesh. Man must, as it were, be kept separate by a body of flesh from what pours into his life of soul from another sphere. If a body of flesh did not separate him from the spiritual world and present the outer world to him as a sense-world, he would be incapable of wonder. It is the material body which enables wonder at the things of the world of sense to arise in man, compelling him to seek for the Spirit. Compassion could not unfold if the one human being were not separated from the other, if men were to live an undivided existence in which a single flow of spiritual life pervaded the consciousness of them all, if each soul were not separated from other souls by the impenetrable sheath provided by the physical body. And conscience could not be experienced as a spiritual force sending its voice into man's world of natural urges, passions, and desires if the material body did not hanker after things against which warning must be given by another power. And so the human being must be incarnated in a physical body in order that he may be able to experience wonder, compassion, and conscience.
In our time, people concern themselves little with such secrets, although they are profoundly enlightening. But in a past by no means very remote, a great deal of attention was paid to these things: —
Think only of the world of the Greek Gods, the Gods of Homer; think of their actions and activities; try to understand the nature of the impulses working in Achilles, a being who stands there like a last survivor of an earlier generation on Earth. He, too, was born of a divine mother. Read through the Iliad and the Odyssey and ask yourselves whether this being, standing halfway between Gods and men, was ever stirred by anything like “conscience” or “compassion”? Homer builds the whole of the Iliad around the fury of the “wrath” of Achilles — and wrath is a passion. Everything in the Greek legend centers around this; the Iliad tells of what came about as the result of a passion — the wrath of Achilles. Consider all the deeds of Achilles described in the Iliad and see if you can say of a single one that Achilles is here moved by anything like compassion or conscience. Neither is there a single example of the stirring of wonder. The very greatness of Homer lies in his power to depict these things with such sublimity. When Achilles is told of some terrible happening, his behavior is far from that of a man filled with wonder. And then turn to the Greek Gods themselves: they give vent to all kinds of impulses which are certainly of the nature of egotism when they manifest in a human being enclosed in a physical body. In the Gods they are spiritual impulses. But among the Greek Gods there is no compassion, no suggestion of conscience, nor anything like wonder. Why not? Because Homer and the Greeks knew that these Gods were beings belonging to a period of evolution preceding that of the Earth — a period when the beings who were then passing through their “human stage” under the conditions prevailing in existence had not yet received into the life of soul the powers of wonder, compassion, and conscience. It must be constantly remembered that the earlier planetary conditions through which the Earth has passed and in which such beings as the Greek Gods underwent their human stage were not there for the purpose of implanting “Wonder,” “Compassion,” and “Conscience” in the life of soul. That is precisely the mission of Earth evolution! The purpose of Earth evolution is that there may be implanted into the evolutionary process as a whole, powers which could otherwise never have come into existence: Wonder, Compassion, and Conscience.
I have told you how the birth of conscience can clearly be traced to a certain period of Greek culture. In the works of Aeschylus what we call “conscience” played no part; there were only remembrances of the avenging Furies; and not until we come to the works of Euripedes is there any clear expression of “conscience” as we know it now. The concept of conscience arose only very gradually during the Graeco-Latin epoch. I have told you that the concept of wonder arises for the first time when men begin to philosophize in the world of Graeco-Latin culture. And a remarkable fact in the spiritual evolution of Earth existence throws far-reaching light upon what we know as compassion, and also, in the true sense, love. In the age of materialism it is exceedingly difficult to maintain in true and right perspective this concept of compassion or love. Many of you will realize that in our materialistic times this concept is distorted, in that materialism associates the concept of “love” so closely with that of “sexuality” — with which, fundamentally, it has nothing whatever to do. That is a point where the culture of our day abandons both intelligence and sound, healthy reason. Through its materialism, evolution in our time is veering not only toward the unintelligent and illogical but even toward the scandalous, when “love” is dragged into such close association with what is covered by the term “sexuality.” The fact that under certain circumstances the element of sexuality may be associated with love between man and woman is no argument for bringing so closely together the all-embracing nature of love or compassion, and the entirely specific character of sexuality. So far as logic is concerned, to associate the concept of, say, a “railway engine” with that of a man being “run over,” because engines do sometimes run over people, would be just about as intelligent as it is to connect the concept of love so closely with that of sexuality — simply because under certain circumstances there is an outward association. That this happens today is not the outcome of any scientific hypothesis but of the irrational and, to some extent, unhealthy mode of thinking prevailing in our time.
On the other hand, another telling fact points to the significance inherent in the concept of love and compassion. At a certain point in the evolution of humanity, and among all the peoples, something is made manifest which, while differing in many essentials, is identical in one respect all over the Earth, namely in the adoption of the concept of love, of compassion. It is very remarkable that six or seven centuries before the inpouring of the Christ Impulse into humanity, founders of religion and systems of thought appeared all over the Earth, among all the peoples. It is of the highest significance that, six centuries before our era, Lao-tse and Confucius should have been living in China, the Buddha in India, the last Zarathustra (not the original Zarathustra) in Persia, and Pythagoras in Greece. How great the difference is between these founders of religion! Only a mind abstracted from reality and incapable of discerning the differences can suggest, as is often mischievously done today, that the teachings of Lao-tse or Confucius do not differ from those of other founders of religions. Yet in one respect there is similarity among them all; they all teach that compassion and love must reign between soul and soul! The point of significance is this: six centuries before our era, consciousness begins to stir that love and compassion are to be received into the stream of human evolution. Thus whether we are thinking of the birth of wonder, of conscience, or of love and compassion in the stream of evolution ... all the signs point to the fact that in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch of culture something was imbued into mankind which we may recognize as the “meaning and purpose of Earth evolution.”
It is so superficial and foolish when people say: “Why was it necessary for man to come down from the worlds of Divine Spirit into the physical world, only to have to reattain them? Why could he not have remained in the higher worlds?” Man could not remain in those worlds because only by coming down into the physical world of Earth evolution could he receive into himself the forces of wonder, love or compassion, and conscience or moral obligation.
We look at the fourth post-Atlantean epoch of culture and perceive, during its course, the dawn of impulses which — in reality only from that time onward — spread more and more widely among mankind. It is very easy today to emphasize how seldom humanity is ruled by compassion and love, how seldom by conscience. But in pointing to these things we must also be mindful of the fact that in the Graeco-Latin age, slavery was still an accepted custom, and that even a philosopher as great as Aristotle still regarded the existence of slaves as a necessary principle of human life; we must also remember that since those days, love has so far gained ground that even if today inequalities still persist among men, there is already present in their souls something like a feeling of shame that certain conditions exist. This in itself indicates that the forces which entered at that time into evolution are unfolding within the souls of men. Nobody would dare nowadays — if he is to avoid the tragic fate of Nietzsche — (the “followers” of Nietzsche can be ignored altogether, for in his right mind Nietzsche would have repudiated them) — to stand openly for the introduction of slavery as it was in Greece. Nobody will deny that the greatest of all forces in the human soul is that of love and compassion, and that it must be man's task to make the voice that sounds out of another world into the soul more and more articulate.
Holding firmly in our minds that the unfolding of the three powers described constitutes the meaning and purpose of Earth-evolution, we turn to the greatest of all impulses — the Christ Impulse which poured into evolution during the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Even outer circumstances indicate that this Impulse is given at the very time when the Earth is ready for the development of the three powers of wonder, compassion or love, and conscience or moral obligation, as intrinsically human qualities. Many studies have given us a picture of how the Christ Impulse made its way into the evolution of humanity.
I want here to refer to one aspect of the Christ Impulse. I have told you that certain spiritual, superhuman forces were held back in the spiritual worlds at the beginning of the evolutionary process on the Earth. This Impulse streamed into the Earth at the time of which an indication is given in the Bible, namely, at the time of the Baptism in the Jordan. It was an Impulse, therefore, untouched by the Luciferic forces, as it had been kept back until the fourth post-Atlantean epoch; in that epoch it streamed into humanity. And now think of this in connection with certain things we have ourselves experienced. — If people are incapable of giving any concrete explanation of how the spiritual world plays into the physical world, it is really out of place for them to come out with crude and unreal ideas like that, for example, of the “Three Logoi.” I have said many times that the word “Logoi” can convey to the ordinary intelligence nothing more than its five letters. When it is alleged in certain quarters outside that here we speak of Christ as the “second Logos,” we do well to realize that misrepresentation and distortion are the order of the day. We ourselves are quoted as the source of statements which have actually originated somewhere else! Our constant endeavor is to deepen, to widen, and to gather from every side, knowledge that can shed light on the Christ Idea. Yet outside our field of work, by talking round an abstract concept, people allege that we speak of the Christ as the “Second Logos.” In the Theosophical Society, conscience ought to be too sharp to permit such allegations. So long as sheer misrepresentation of other people's views is possible, the Theosophical Movement cannot be said to have reached any particularly high level, and while this sort of thing goes on it is futile to boast about freedom of opinion in the Society. This is an empty phrase as long as people allow themselves to spread false ideas of the views held by others. Certainly there must be freedom to spread every shade of opinion — but not freedom to misrepresent the views of others! Spiritual conscience must be sharpened in this respect; otherwise all feeling for truth would in the end be driven out of the Theosophical Movement and then it would not be possible to cultivate the true spiritual Movement within the framework of the “Theosophical Movement.” These things must not be glossed over but taken really seriously. Certainly, there may be fewer publications if the aim is to print only those things which are founded upon genuine, reliable knowledge. But after all, what harm will be done if there is less printing? What does it matter if less is said, so long as what is said is true and in accordance with reality? It was recently stated in periodicals abroad that the Christ is spoken of by us as the “Second Logos” and that we are said to be cultivating a “narrow” Theosophy, suitable for Germany but not for any other country; we are said to be cultivating a “narrow” Theosophy, whereas a really “broad” Theosophical Movement is being conducted from a certain center in Leipzig of which you have heard. When things of this kind are to be read, it can only be concluded that there does not exist in the Theosophical Movement the sharpness of conscience that is the pre-requisite of a spiritual movement. And if we lack this sharpness of conscience, if we do not feel the most intense responsibility to the holiest truth, we shall make no progress on any other path. These things have had to be said. And within the Theosophical Movement it will above all be necessary to have eyes for the quality of love and compassion.
If we conceive the Christ Impulse to be the down-pouring of that spiritual power which was kept back in the ancient Lemurian time in order to flow into evolution during the fourth post-Atlantean epoch at the point marked by the Baptism in the Jordan, reaching its culmination in the Mystery of Golgotha — then it is clear that He Who is known as the “Christ” was not, even at that time, incarnated, in the ordinary sense, in a physical human being. We know what complicated processes were connected with the man “Jesus of Nazareth” in order that for three years of his life the Christ Impulse might live within him. We are therefore able to understand that for three years the Christ Impulse lived on the Earth in the three sheaths of a human being, but we realize too that even at that time the Christ Impulse was not “incarnated” on the Earth in the ordinary sense but that He “pervaded” the body of the Being “Jesus of Nazareth.” This must be understood when it is said that it is not possible to speak of a “return” of Christ, but only of an Impulse which was present once, during the time of the events in Palestine beginning with the Baptism in the Jordan, when there remained only the physical body, the ether-body, and the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth; within these sheaths the Christ was then present on the very soil of the Earth. From that time Christ has been united with the spiritual atmosphere of the Earth and can there be found by souls who are willing to receive Him. From that time onward — and only from that time onward — He has been present in the spiritual atmosphere of the Earth. The great turn given to Earth evolution lies in the fact that from that time forward there was a power in the Earth which it did not previously contain.
We know that what we actually see in the kingdoms of Nature around us is not reality but maya, the Great Illusion. In the kingdom of the animals we see the individual forms coming into being and passing away; the Group Soul alone endures. In the plant kingdom, the individual plants appear and disappear, but behind them there is the Earth Spirit which does not pass away. So it is, too, in the kingdom of the minerals. The Spiritual endures, but the Physical, whether in the animal, plant, or mineral kingdom, is transient, impermanent. Even the outer senses discern that the planet Earth is involved in a process of pulverization and will at some future time disintegrate into dust. We have spoken of how the Earth-body will be cast off by the Spirit of the Earth, as the human body is cast off by the individual human Spirit. What will remain as the highest substance of the Earth when its goal has been reached? The Christ Impulse was present on the Earth, so to say as “spiritual Substance.” That Impulse endures and will be received into men during the course of Earth evolution. But how does It live on? When the Christ Impulse was upon the Earth for three years, It had no physical body, no ether body, no astral body of Its own, but was enveloped in the three sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth. When the goal has been reached, the Earth, like man, will be a fully developed being, a meet and fitting vehicle for the Christ Impulse.
But from whence are the three sheaths of the Christ Impulse derived? From forces that can be unfolded only on the Earth. Beginning with the Mystery of Golgotha, whatever has unfolded on the Earth since the fourth post-Atlantean period as the power of wonder, whatever comes to life in us as wonder — passes, finally, to the Christ, weaving the astral body of the Christ Impulse. Love or Compassion in the souls of men weaves the ether body of the Christ Impulse; and the power of conscience, which from the time of the Mystery of Golgotha until the goal of the Earth is attained lives in and inspires the souls of men, weaves the physical body — or what corresponds with the physical body — for the Christ Impulse. (Note 1)
The true meaning of words from the Gospel can only now be discerned: “Whatsoever ye have done to one of the least of these My Brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” (Matt. 25.40). The forces streaming from man to man are the units integrating the ether body of Christ: love, or compassion, weaves the ether body of Christ. Thus when the goal of Earth evolution is attained, He will be enveloped in the threefold vesture woven from the powers that have lived in men — and which, when the limitations of the “I” have been transcended, become the sheaths of Christ.
And now think of how men live in communion with Christ. From the time of the Mystery of Golgotha to the attainment of the goal of Earth evolution, man grows more perfect in that he develops to the stature that is within his reach as a being endowed with the power of the “I.” But men are united with the Christ Who has come among them in that they transcend their own “I” — and, through wonder, build the astral body of Christ. Christ does not build His own astral body, but in the wonder that arises in their souls, men share in the forming of the astral body of Christ. His ether body will be fashioned through the compassion and love flowing from man to man; and His physical body through the power of conscience unfolding in human beings. Whatever wrongs are committed in these three realms deprive the Christ of the possibility of full development on the Earth — that is to say, Earth evolution is left imperfect. Those who go about the Earth with indifference and unconcern, who have no urge to understand what the Earth can reveal to them, deprive the astral body of Christ of the possibility of full development; those who live without unfolding compassion and love hinder the ether body of Christ from full development; and those who lack conscience hinder the development of what corresponds with the physical body of Christ ... but this means that the Earth cannot reach the goal of its evolution.
The principle of egotism has to be overcome in Earth evolution. The Christ Impulse penetrates more and more deeply into the life and culture of humanity, and the conviction that this Impulse has lived its way into mankind free from every trace of denominationalism — as, for example, in the paintings of Raphael — this conviction will bear its fruit. How Christ may truly be portrayed is a problem still to be solved. Men on Earth will have to be greatly enriched in their life of feeling if, after the many attempts made through the centuries, another is to succeed to some slight extent in expressing what the Christ is as the supersensible Impulse living on through Earth evolution. The attempts made hitherto do not even suggest what form such a portrayal of Christ should take. For it would have to express how the enveloping sheaths woven of the forces of wonder, compassion, and conscience are gradually made manifest. The countenance of Christ must be so vital and living that it is an expression of the victory won over the sensory desire-nature in men of Earth — victory achieved through the very forces which have spiritualized the countenance. There must be sublime power in this countenance. The painter or sculptor will have to express in the unusual form of the chin and mouth, the power of conscience unfolded to its highest degree. The mouth must convey the impression that it is not there for the purpose of taking food but to give utterance to whatever moral strength and power of conscience has been cultivated by men through the ages; the very structure of the bones around the teeth in the lower jaw will seem to form themselves into a mouth. All this will have to be expressed in the countenance. The form of the lower part of the face will have to express a power whose outstreaming rays seem to shatter the rest of the way that certain other forces are vanquished. With a mouth like this it will be impossible to give the Christ Figure a bodily form similar to that possessed by the physical human being today. On the other hand, all the power of compassion will flow out of His eyes — the power that eyes alone can contain — not in order to receive impressions but to bear the very soul into the joys and sufferings of others. His brow will give no suggestion of thought based upon earthly sense-impressions. It will be a brow conspicuously prominent above the eyes, arching over that part of the brain; it will not be a “thinker's” brow which merely works upon material already there. Wonder will be made manifest in this projecting brow which curves gently backwards over the head, expressing wonder and marvel at the mysteries of the world. It will be a head such as is nowhere to be found in physical humanity.
Every true representation of the Christ must be a portrayal of the Ideal embodied in Him. When man reaches out toward this highest Ideal and strives through Spiritual Science to represent it in art, this feeling will arise in greater and greater strength: If you would portray the Christ, you must not look at what is actually there in the world, but you must let your whole being be quickened and pervaded by all that flows from contemplation of the spiritual evolution of the world, inspired by the three great impulses of Wonder, Compassion, and Conscience.
- Note 1:
- See also: Christ and the Twentieth Century (25.1.12). Published in the volume entitled: Turning Points of Spiritual History.
"The Eagle" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
Rudolf Steiner: "Let us look at the bird in the air — the eagle, let us say, in his majestic flight — upon whom, as though by an outer gift of grace, the rays of the Sun and their action bestowed his plumage, bestowed his horny beak — let us look at this eagle as he flies in the air. Certain forces work upon him there. The Sun does not only possess the physical forces of light and warmth of which we usually speak. When I described the Druid Mysteries to you, I drew your attention to the fact that spiritual forces too emanate from the Sun. It is these forces which give to the different species of birds their variegated colors, the special formation of their plumage. When we penetrate with spiritual perception into the nature of the Sun's working, we understand why the eagle has his particular plumage, and when we deepen our contemplation of this being of the eagle, when we develop an inner, artistic comprehension of nature which contains the spiritual within it, when we can perceive how formative forces work out of the impulses of the Sun — strengthened by other impulses of which I shall speak later — when we see how the Sun-impulses stream down over the eagle even before he has emerged from the egg, how they conjure forth the plumage, or, to be more exact, how they conjure it into his fleshy form, then we can ask ourselves: What is the significance of all this for man? The significance of this for man is that it is what makes his brain into the bearer of thoughts. And you have the right insight into the macrocosm, into Great Nature, when you so regard the eagle that you say: The eagle has his plumage, his bright, many-colored feathers; in these lives the self-same force which lives in you in that you make your brain into the bearer of thoughts. What makes the convolutions of your brain? What makes your brain capable of taking up that inner salt-force which is the basis of thinking? What really enables your brain to make a thinker of you? It is the same force which gives his feathers to the eagle in the air. Thus we feel ourselves related to the eagle through the fact that we think: we feel the human substitute for the eagle's plumage within us. Our thoughts flow out from the brain in the same way as the feathers stream out from the eagle." -- October 19, 1923
Edward Schuré on first meeting Rudolf Steiner: "I shall never forget the extraordinary impression made upon me by this man when he entered the room. As I looked at that thin, powerful face, at the black mysterious eyes flashing light as if from unfathomable depths, it struck me that for the first time in my life I was facing one of those supreme seers who have direct vision of the great beyond."
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
"The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell." — Simone Weil
Rudolf Steiner: "The Asian fundamentally despises the nature of European and American thinking because it always presents him with a utilitarian standpoint which can only be governed by the intellect, by the rational mind."
"You are trying to measure the universe with a foot ruler."
— Swamiji, frequently
"Be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." ~ Ecclesiastes 12:12
As human beings we really live, as it were, throughout the day in a kind of autumn and winter mood. Indeed, the soul's summer mood only exists when the soul is asleep, and the sleeping human body, the physical and the etheric body, is like a plant. And the I and astral body outside shed their rays upon the physical and etheric body like the Sun and the stars, and they call into life again the forces destroyed during the day; vegetable life begins to grow. And the day's thinking activity exists in order to eliminate what the night calls forth as growing life.
When we wake up, we lightly pass over our whole plantlike existence, just like autumn over the plants of the Earth. And when we are awake during the day, we do what winter does to the vegetation of the Earth by destroying in our physical and etheric body the budding, growing life produced at night in the soul's summer time when we are asleep. From this standpoint, it can easily be grasped why people who do not bring at least something of their soul's summer into their waking daytime life dry up so easily. Parched, dried-up little professors are people who do not like to absorb things which are not fully conscious. They do not like to take in anything of the soul's summer seasons. Consequently they dry up; they acquire a pronounced winter character.
Human History in the Light of Spiritual Investigation. Lecture 9 of 16
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, January 18, 1912:
If it was already somewhat difficult from the point of view of the ideas ruling at present to explain the origin of man spiritual-scientifically (as was done in the last lecture of this cycle), it will be today still less easy to speak about the origin of the animal world. For if on the one hand the difficulty results from the fact that everything concerning the animal world is still much more remote for the human observation — at least seemingly — than everything concerning the nature and essence of man, so on the other hand a quite special difficulty must arise because according to the present world conception, an influence of spiritual events, spiritual causes, on the development and origin of animal existence will not at all be admitted. Instead, we find that in the course of the development of our mental life in the last periods the notion is formed quite specially that exactly the same causes, powers, and realities partake in the development of animals' life as in the development of the lifeless, so-called inorganic nature, and we know that the greatest triumphs of natural science have been realized just in this sphere of the so-called pure natural development of living beings.
Now we must certainly say, on the one side the great longing aims at a pure natural development — as one usually says — that means such a development that only considers those powers which also rule in lifeless existence, and we see on the other side how a research moving in this direction thinks to hurry from triumph to triumph — nay, if we interpret it in the right sense, even does so. Nevertheless, on the other hand we can perceive how deeper thinkers who stand entirely on the basis of facts of natural science, and who are also fully acquainted with that which natural science has brought forward in recent times, are not in a position to share the opinion of those thinkers who want throughout to derive life from a mere union or a mere combination — although from a very complicated one — of those powers and events which are also present in lifeless nature. A great part of the thinkers of the present and the recent past did not take much trouble saying: up to a certain time probably the development of our Earth has principally consisted in unfolding out of itself lifeless processes, and at a certain point of time some materials have joined in such a complicated way that the simplest living beings originated ... whereafter then the development progressed in such a way that out of these simpler living beings, in the struggle for life and in adaptation to the surrounding, so to speak, more and more complicated living beings have developed up to man. But in contradiction to this idea many philosophers of recent time have argued that it is impossible to think that at any time, that which can be called in the real sense an original procreation or an issuing forth of the living from the lifeless could arise out of a mere union of lifeless matter.
To such thinkers mentioned above Gustav Theodor Fechner, a man of genius in many ways, belongs. Because really important progress in natural science in various regions is connected with this personality, we should truly not pass by so lightly the theories of such a thinker, as it is generally done today. Gustav Theodor Fechner cannot understand that the living ever could have developed out of the lifeless. It is much more obvious to Fechner to imagine that the lifeless can go forth out of the living through processes of isolation, because we see indeed that the inner life process of the living beings excretes the materials which, after having served a certain time in the life process, pass over to the rest of nature and belong then, as it were, to lifeless inorganic processes. So Fechner can well imagine our Earth at its starting point as a single whole living being. This huge living being “Earth” has done its breathing — so to say — from the cosmos and has perhaps also taken its nutrition from the (space of the) universe. Out of the entirety of this huge, enormous organism, which has once been our Earth, on the one hand, living beings have developed as through a special constriction of that which in the huge Earth organism has been living organs only, which thus became independent. And on the other hand — so Fechner imagines — those substances which today belong to the lifeless nature processes were excreted in a similar way as today substances are excreted from an organism after having served the living processes for a certain time. Thus, on the lines of this thinker, not the living came forth from the lifeless, but the lifeless came forth from the living. In a similar way, perhaps in a still more fantastic one, the natural investigator Wilhelm Preyer forms his own imagination. He has proved his legitimacy, his qualification for speaking about natural science not only through his abundant physiological and biological research, but also through his publications about Darwinism. Preyer also pictured to himself that the Earth, at its starting point, was a kind of living being; he was always disinclined to speak of something lifeless in an absolute sense. He says we have really no right to look upon a flame as a kind of life process on the lowest level, a life process which is simplified, and has descended from a higher level; just so such life processes as we observe today could have developed in ascending. What Preyer means is: when a flame is burning, then it seems as if something like a life process is displayed to us in the consuming of the matter, in the entire method and way in which the burning, as a fact, presents itself to us. And he therefore supposes that it may not be out of the question that the Earth itself was a huge life process, a life process that took place, nevertheless, under quite other conditions than the life processes of today. And so we see the most curious imagination has issued from the head of an investigator of nature, which Preyer expresses as follows: The Earth could have been at the starting point of its evolution a huge enormous organism, the breathing of which we have to look for in the glowing vapors of iron, the blood flow of which we have to imagine in the glowing liquid metals, and the nourishment of which must have been brought about through meteorites drawn from the universe. This is certainly a peculiar life process, but this natural investigator thinks he couldn't go in another way if he were to trace back, not the living from the lifeless, but the apparently lifeless from the original living. And that which appears to us today as our life, in various realms appeared to him only as a life shaped especially, whereas the life of a burning candle seemed to him as a life formed backwards, in a certain way, so that the latter may appear to us outwardly as lifeless.
If we must say that such developments in recent mental life can show us — so to speak — how notable thinkers standing firmly upon the grounds of natural science, not only with regard to their convictions but also their comprehension, do not refer to the Earth at all as the glowing liquid lifeless gas ball of the Kant-Laplace, but look upon the Earth at its origin as a huge living being, in order to be able to explain that what is living today, this fact can, in some respects, teach us that it is, indeed, not so easy to trace back the living to the lifeless. Yes, we even must say that just the (human?) spirits having struck out in a new direction who have obtained the greatest results of research in natural science recently, cannot teach us that natural-scientific thinking has traced back all living to the lifeless, and that in this regard, natural science would just contradict what Spiritual Science has to say: that all substances, and then in general, all life can be traced back to spiritual causes. It is indeed true that the great results of natural science performed by Darwin or Lamarck or other pioneer spirits exclude any regard of spiritual causes fundamental for these phenomena.
I have already, several times, pointed out a notable passage in Darwin's publications, in which this great pioneer points out the way in which he succeeded in showing the metamorphosis of one form of life into another, and how, by this experience, it seemed to him quite well possible to trace back today's complicated living beings to earlier, perhaps less complicated living beings and thus explain the variety of today's life forms, perhaps by means of a few differentiated original life forms. But then Darwin says, in a very characteristic manner: (in this way) we succeeded in tracing today's various forms of life back to an original one and in explaining the life of today, in its multifariousness, through evolution. But Darwin is speaking of these original forms of life in such a way that he assumes that — as he says literally — “the Creator once has poured life into them.” Yes, we may say outright that this natural investigator, Darwin, working in the midst of the 19th Century, was convinced he was authorized in his explanation of the metamorphosis of the species in living nature, by just simply assuming that he retraced back the development in nature to issue from the Creator. As we can know from Darwin's whole manner of thinking, he must have realized at once the insufficiency of his explanation if he were not permitted to assume the action of spiritual realities at any point in Earth evolution. He felt himself firm and strong on the grounds he took a stand upon, just by saying that if we could assume there was life in its simplest forms created out of the spiritual, then we also could expect of this life of simplest forms full of such impulsion power, such impetus, that it was able to transform itself to complicated and manifold forms. — And in a stronger sense, this can be applied to Jean Lamarck, who was the first to speak about the natural development of living beings to more and more complicated forms through adaptation to their surroundings. We see that Lamarck's idea is the following: We may assume a development from the outwardly unaccomplished to the outwardly more and more accomplished, because by so thinking we are not at all in contradiction to evolution as a whole being interwoven with, and inspired by, spiritual fundamental forces. How else could it be possible that there is a passage in one of Lamarck's fundamental works, which we can take quite literally, and which is just significant for the way and manner characteristic for earlier natural-scientific thinkers. Lamarck says in his “Philosophie Zoologique” (“Volksausgabe's Leipzig”, ed. Alfred Kroener, p. 21):
“As it had not been taken into consideration that the individuals of one specie must remain unchanged as long as the conditions mainly influencing their manner of life don't change, and as the ruling prejudices are in accordance with the assumption of this progressive generation of similar individuals, it is assumed that every specie is unchangeable and as old as nature, and that they are separately created by the sublime Originator of all things.”
Lamarck is conscious that he must break with the concept of the one and only creation of all species at their starting point, and that he must imagine the species, now around us, as having arisen through evolution. But then he continues as follows:
“Surely, everything exists only through the will of the sublime Originator of all things. But can we order His rules in the exercise of His will? Or could we decide the way and manner in which he has done this? Could not the Almighty Infinite create an order of matter (things?) unknown to us which lets all that we see and all that exists enter into it one after another? Whatsoever His Will may have been, the immeasurable magnitude of His Might is surely always the same, and in whatsoever manner He May have accomplished His Will, nothing can diminish His Magnitude.
“Thus honoring the dispensations of this infinite wisdom, I restrict myself to the limits of a simple observer of nature.”
Thus speaks he to whom one appeals today — quite rightly — when one speaks about the doctrine of evolution. But at the same time we see that this man has thereby pointed out to himself his program in the most distinct way. What is this program?
Lamarck argues that by ascertaining through observation all that is of service to the mere natural observer, the possibility results of imagining that organisms have gradually developed in a progressive succession; however, we must also imagine that spiritual impulses were originally holding sway in the entirety of evolution, otherwise we have no firm basis at all. We recognize this by all means as the conviction of the pioneer Lamarck. And certainly in this case we must say: Thus this natural investigator has traced for himself his special program by restricting himself to the species of the outer world, and by not ascending farther to that which must be spiritually fundamental for the whole process of evolution. He consigns the spiritual to a world into which he is not inclined to penetrate, and which he presumes, from the outset, to be a region of total, unimpeded Will of the Creator — but he restricts himself to the presentation of what has emanated out of this Will of the Creator and what issues forth in the progress of evolution.
Now, on the other hand we must again say, as matters stand today, that it can never result from the experiences or research of the natural-scientific observer that at any time the living could have developed out of the lifeless on our arth, in the conditions which are available for today's external observation. The imagination that the living developed out of the lifeless is by no means a new one — it is, in truth, the older one. In this regard I have already emphasized that it was a great progress in natural science, if one goes back only about two centuries ago, when Francesco Redi spoke the sentence: “Living can only go forth from living.” It is interesting that throughout all the earlier centuries before Francesco Redi's time, it was assumed that not only simple, but also even very complicated, living beings could come forth out of mere lifeless matter. Not only was it assumed that out of the mud of the rivers something lifeless for the outward consideration — lower animals such as rainworms, for instance — could develop without a living germ of the rainworm ancestor put into the mud, but it was also systematically assumed that animals up to the insects, or still higher ones, could develop out of lifeless matter. It is interesting that we find in a work of St. Isidor, who died in 636, that it is quoted quite systematically that out of an ox corpse — that means something gone over already into the lifeless — that if it is beaten enough, a species of worms would develop which could become bees. Indeed, this man at the head of the erudition of his time not only indicated how bees could come out of an ox corpse, but he also tells us how in the same way hornets can develop out of horse corpses, drones out of mules, and wasps out of donkey corpses. And as if this were not enough, it was alleged up to the 17th century how mice, eels, and frogs originate out of that which is already transformed into the lifeless. And the belief that life can originate out of the lifeless in the simplest way, this belief was so strong that Francesco Redi narrowly escaped from the fate of Giordano Bruno, because he was so bold as to proclaim that the living can only originate from the living; for the supposition that living beings can originate out of lifeless matter could only depend on inexact observation, because the living germs of the living beings must have been already in the river mud if living beings should originate.
Spiritual Science must add to the achievements of Francesco Redi the sentence that the spiritual can originate only from the spiritual. And because the entirety of Earth evolution finally culminates in the spiritual, as it presents itself in a simple way and on an inferior level in the animal world, on a higher level in normal man, and on the highest one in the human spirit itself, thus this spiritual likewise originating itself at last out of the seeming unspiritual, can only be traced back to an original spiritual. If Spiritual Science is compelled today to state this fact, as we have heard in the earlier lectures and also in the past years in these cycles of lectures, and if in order to confirm further entirely in every region the sentence: “the spiritual can only originate from spiritual” it says, all that appears to us as matter is only a transformed spiritual — then it (Spiritual Science) is today not doomed to the fate of Francesco Redi or Giordano Bruno (for other things are now in fashion and people are no longer burned), but suffer other fates....
Now, at first an outline of what Spiritual Science has to say from its point of view about the question of the origins of the animal world will be outlined. Then it will be shown how the comprehension of Spiritual Science about the origin of the animal world can be entirely reconciled with the acquisitions of natural-scientific knowledge of the present, for I have set myself the task in these lectures to harmonize what Spiritual Science produces out of itself with the acquisitions of natural science.
Spiritual Science as such cannot go back to that which Gustav Theodor Fechner or Preyer have assumed as the original Earth organism. On the other hand, however, we must emphasize again and again that no explanation will succeed in making it logically plausible, if only to some extent, that the manifoldness of the living beings could have, in Earth evolution, developed out of a mere nebular organization, as assumed by Kant-Laplace's theory; unless we had, so to speak, to take up the expedients of the most recent mental attitude, if we would reconcile the origin of the organic or animal world with this idea. Then we would arrive at the method of thinking of the Swedish investigator Svante Arrhenius, today indeed very much admired, but not less fantastic: that germs of living beings got planted into the Earth from the space of the universe by “compression (gravitation) of radiation” just — let us say — at the right time, when the Earth was in a state to receive such germs. Everyone will realize very easily that such an explanation is no explanation, for we have then to explain where and how these living beings originated, even if they are only flown as simple germs into the Earth through compression (gravitation) of radiation.
Spiritual Science must go back to a form of the Earth where the Earth does not present itself to us as so occupied and populated by such living beings as we know today. In a certain regard, Spiritual Science shows us something similar to what Fechner and Preyer have pictured to themselves by mere intellectual conclusions (deductions); namely, that the Earth at and since its beginning has been a living being, which contained in itself gas and vapor, not only in a lifeless manner, as the theory of Kant-Laplace assumes. This theory can be explained very easily to the simplest pupil by saying: Look here, by mere rotation something can split off from a drop of a liquid, if we let it rotate, and as a little drop is thrown off it rotates around the big drop — thus in this way we originate a world system on a small scale. But doing this, we forget that we ourselves have moved this drop by rotation and that, in case such an event should have indeed happened once on a large scale — namely, that the planets have split off by means of the rotation of a gas ball — then a giant professor or a giant teacher must have ruled in the cosmos, for if we exercise an experiment we must consider all conditions and not forget our own part. If it is already impossible to explain from what we know at present the splitting off of the planets from a gas ball which at any time may have existed, it is far less possible to explain life in a planetarian life without something living, if only lifelessness existed beforehand.
Spiritual Science leads us back to an Earth which indeed at its starting point was not only full of life, but also spiritualized, impregnated, by spirit, so that we have to trace back Earth evolution to an originally spiritualized Earth being. If we picture this spiritualized Earth Being to our senses, as it were, in an image, this Being would present itself to us in its substance in such a way that we have, comparatively around us today like the last reminders of this original state of the Earth, moving, but not formed, living matter in the most inferior organisms, which are really not quite exactly easy to define as plant beings or animal beings. These most inferior organisms could really be defined as flowing life, for they appear at first as a round drop which changes its matter, so to say, through no outward cause with regard to shape and situation — lengthens into tentacles or feet, creeping over the ground, but has in itself no distinct shape. If we picture to ourselves these inferior organisms, this original life substance, then we have before us, in the sense of Spiritual Science, the whole of the original Earth matter, and within this Earth matter nothing at all that we have today as lifeless matter. The whole Earth matter is, so to say, a living but still unformed substance, and Spiritual Science must imagine, aside from this unshaped substance, that which we call the formative principle, the transcendental formative principle, as something purely spiritual at the starting point of Earth evolution.
We can imagine today what the Earth had been at the starting point of its evolution along the lines of Spiritual Science by imagining, as we have often done in previous lectures, the sleeping human being. Then we picture to ourselves sleeping man — we have the physical body, lying in bed, and this physical body is permeated with that which in a spiritual-scientific way we no longer call a material bodily form: the etheric body — but outwardly, comparatively, in the sphere of this physical body we have that which is within this physical body during the waking day life: the living life of the soul, which we call the connection between the ego and the astral body of man. So we have before us in man who is awake, the inner mental essence, or essential part of the soul nature, permeating the external bodily nature; but in sleeping man we have the external-bodily secluded from the inmost soul life. The inner soul life is unconscious in sleeping man of today. It is, as it were, not permeated with a real inner content, at least not consciously. But for a real thinker it is impossible to imagine that the sleeping man really still has this in himself, or that what is living and acting in sleeping man also brings about the appearance of soul life itself during waking. What else can we imagine, when we proceed to really logical thinking? Today we can only sketch it in rough outlines — but anyone who thinks logically cannot as a result come to any other conclusion — we can imagine nothing else than that the man who is awake practices, expresses, his soul activity through the organs of his body, so that the man who is awake needs his bodily organs in order to develop consciousness, and that the bodily organs must be formed in such a way that when enlivened from the soul principle, they can be the bearers or mediators of the life of consciousness. But a man can never imagine that, by means of inner, living, organic action, that which comes into our consciousness as inner soul processes while awake can be produced in sleep. We only have to make a simple comparison, entirely sufficient for this purpose, to discover this fact.
Instead of the brain let us place, as the soul organ mediating our waking conscious state, the lung which breathes and mediates the life processes. Then we must say the lung breathes only by means of oxygen flowing into it from outside. But the action of the lung does not consist only in receiving the oxygen flowing into it, for the organic action cannot have an influence on the supply of oxygen. We cannot experience anything about the nature and substance of oxygen from the manner in which we nourish and enliven our lung, and the lung cannot be supplied with oxygen from inside, either. But just as we have to imagine the inner life process as going over into the lung, so we also have to imagine the inner life process going over into the brain and other organs during sleeping life. In the evening our organs are exhausted, because soul activity wears out the organs, and they must be impregnated again with a pure life activity in order to again be able to be mediators of soul activity. But just as the mere inner life activity cannot supply the lung with oxygen, the activity of the inner life cannot supply sleeping man with that which we can call the instincts, desires, and passions (emotions) of man. The nature of the soul life is not a consequence or result of the mere bodily activity of man, just as the nature of oxygen, which only unites itself with the lung from outside, is not the result of mere life activity. No one can escape the quite cogent conclusion that just as soul activity must flow into the organs for knowledge of man from outside on the moment of waking, likewise the oxygen flows into the lungs from outside, just as the oxygen as such exists in the outer world and imparts itself to the lung, with the only difference being that the lung is supplied with oxygen not alternately but always, because the lung does not sleep. Consequently there must be something which, combining with the human ego, flows into the bodily function in the morning, when man wakes, and then works in the human soul organs. Thus we must conclude that in the life during sleep the spiritual is separated, and we must regard this spiritual essence, as it were, as something that wakens in the morning apart from our bodily organs, to act as soul organs.
Consequently we have, comparatively speaking, in sleeping man a living organism, and floating over him a self-dependent, spiritual one. We must picture to ourselves the following: While we are awake the soul processes going on in us — that means the spiritual soul life — can really only effectuate certain processes, doubtlessly parallel with the soul processes in the organism. They are effects of the soul processes and cause fatigue, as it were — processes of dissolution of matter, whereas during sleep the body annuls these processes of fatigue.
In a similar way Spiritual Science reveals that the Earth, at its starting point, had really consisted of a duality, of something not quite like sleeping and waking man, but that could be compared with what has been, so to say, moving life substance, as the last remainder of the simplest organisms are still today, but that which, in no way, have been organisms transformed into animal or human forms, not even into vegetable, plant forms. And so, if we have to imagine in connection with man's body that which is man's soul content hovering over him in sleep, so we have to picture to ourselves the Earth, at its beginning, hovering over what we can call the spirit of the Earth, the common, united Earth spirit. And within this Earth spirit we have to seek that which later becomes form in Earth evolution — in this Earth spirit we also, above all, have to seek that which affects stimulation of the flowing material substance, so to say the sleeping Earth, so that the entire life substance comes into movement in various ways. Thus we have to imagine the stimulating causes as, I might say, spiritual streams from the surrounding of the Earth, working into flowing, living matter (substance). At first these causes created in the flowing substance only such forms as did not solidify, but after having formed themselves for the time being, adopted their formless shape again, as the storm whips the ocean and forms it in various wave structures. Formed life must be derived out of formless living. The formative principle itself is to be imagined as a supersensible, spiritual principle that was connected with the original Earth substance. If today we would imagine something similar to this way of working in regard to the Earth at its starting point — this reciprocal effect between spirit and matter — so could we imagine a more narrow region, where what happened was similar to what happened at the starting point of Earth evolution. (Natural science of the future will prove this). We can still show something that affects unformed life substance. All those processes bringing forth our own spiritual life in brain substance or in blood substance can be compared to the processes which took place, at the Earth's beginning, between the spiritual, formative principle and the living substance fundamental to the evolution of Earth.
Such a thing is not able to be proved along the lines of our thinking today — it is to be proved only by Spiritual Science that, by means already described, for the whole of Earth evolution something is produced similar to what is produced in the single life of man in memory. By the training of certain forces, here also mentioned, which are resting in the depths of the soul, human memory expands, and man's spiritual outlook — and these powers are the same — the development of which enables the spiritual investigator to look immediately into the spiritual Earth being. Thus matter and material life can be penetrated entirely by the spiritual view, and material processes in their existence can display themselves in such a way that not only present conditions, but also previous ones out of which they have developed, can confront the spiritual eye as living memory. Just as man in the present carries in himself that which has formed in the life of his soul since his childhood and can therewith follow the line of remembrance, so also he follows his soul life into earlier conditions; he can thus trace it back, how it has been not only now, but decades ago. If the spiritual outlook does not adhere only to external matter, but penetrates the surface of things and into a spiritual basis, then something works within the spiritual that puts man into a kind of world memory, which is also called reading in the Akasha Chronicle. Man is placed into a world memory, and through this he looks back into earlier original conditions of the Earth.
Proofs are therefore only to be given in such a spiritual way and manner, and if these things are then so investigated we have the means at our disposal to confirm what is brought to light through spiritual investigators and which reveal that a full harmony exists between that which things present to us still today, and that which the spiritual investigator must proclaim. For this reason, in a popular lecture one can take no other direction but to reveal what presents itself to the spiritual investigator, and what flows out of immediate spiritual observation while placed by this spiritual-scientific observation as it were at the starting point of Earth evolution. At the same time, however, we must emphasize that in such conditions which we have to recognize as spiritual, the spiritual is much nearer to material production than the spiritual is today to material production. Today the spiritual uses the counter position, the resistance of the material body, so that it forms the spiritual soul-like in man only to those pictures of the material which we can put before our eyes in our imaginations. We don't accomplish a densification stronger than these pictures.
But Spiritual Science is based on the following idea. (The following lectures will draw your attention again to the origin of matter.) All material being has been originally a spiritual one; once the spiritual was, when it itself had been creating matter, in a more original state, full of will and force, than it is today in man's spirituality. Therefore we have to imagine that what hovered over the Earth as spiritual formative principle was more closely connected in a certain way to the original life substance than the soul hovering over sleeping man is connected today to his physical body. Progressing further, we have to imagine that through the interference of the supersensible formative principle on substance, all that which is today called lifeless nature is originated. We have really to imagine that through the action of the formative principle such matter, which then becomes lifeless, has isolated itself out of a moving and stirred substance. Once again Spiritual Science is, in this way, closely connected with the investigations of Fechner and Preyer. But such unliving matter is again seized in a certain way by the formative principle, now proceeding in this lifeless matter as a crystallizing principle, so that we have to imagine all minerals issuing, going forth, from an originally spiritual, living matter, becoming lifeless, and then being seized by the formative principle. Therefore, when we speak about crystals, we can speak today not yet about life, but only recognize a transcendental formative principle. In another way, the formative principle was in force in the matter which remained as a living one. If today we put aside plants, we must imagine that under the influence of those substances which separated gradually as lifeless ones from the living one (and which grouped themselves in various ways) — Earth differentiated, grouped itself, so that we designate firm earth, liquid water, air, and so on. Further we must imagine that during this time the formative principle worked upon the entire living and lifeless substance, and that thereby the living-formed matter is exposed to the external lifeless. And while previously it was throughout only living, in itself, it now had to permeate itself with lifeless matter, because in the course of Earth development the principle of nutrition — the taking in of non-living matter into living matter — became important.
Thus we see the living, so to speak, taking up the nonliving, which it had previously separated from itself in a certain way. Thereby the living on Earth comes more and more into those conditions which signify themselves through the lifeless as the elements — earth, water, air, etc. — and the formative principle can act in the necessary way only by forming the living, so that the shapes (forms) are adapted to the external elements.
Now, we must imagine life on Earth in such a way that in the course of time, by means of the formative principle, the living and the lifeless are kept separated in various ways. We must imagine that materials which today are fallen from the heights and are connected with the firm body of the Earth were, in a medium Earth period, still dissolved (diluted), were present in the Earth atmosphere as mist. We can absolutely speak about such an Earth age in which such an air veil, as it is today, was non-existent — and we must speak about mists and gasses, which nowadays have been consolidated and united with the Earth for a long time. We must imagine the entire distribution of water and air in a middle Earth period, in an entirely different way. We must imagine that the formative principle — which we should think of as purely spiritual — by working living substance into the lifeless, formed, matter, had to take from that latter the conditions for breathing, etc. Thus the formative principle had to create in this way the most varied forms adapted to the old Earth conditions, which now do not exist at all. However, Spiritual Science now shows that the development progressed in such a way that, in those times, only a part of the living substance, as it were, was really formed, and that when the unformed matter was seized upon immediately by the spiritual principle, a part of the old, moving, unformed, living substance was held back. In older times, when the Earth was surrounded in quite a different way by layers of matter, which today as it is fall down because of compression, or are present in the inside of the Earth in liquid form and literally lead a liquid life — that the formative principle was working, as it were, by crystallizing, into the living, forms which in today's conditions cannot exist any longer. Let us look at such a state, in which our Earth did not have at all the planetary shape that it has today. At this time quite obviously other, different forms of living beings must originate, living beings which were adapted to the old conditions, and which nowadays could no longer exist. Now that may easily be accounted for, explained, by the fact that many of these life forms had to die out entirely when the Earth changed its formation. We find (which is geologically demonstrable and shown by paleontology) that animals have lived which, we have to imagine, were only adjusted, let us say, to water, only coming to its present form, but still permeated with quite different substances, and we find other animals, as the saurian species, etc. To be brief: we can meet manifold animal species (forms) which were adapted to the conditions then. Aside from these, other forms originated which were adjusted to the conditions, so to speak, in such a way that they really could no longer be shaped out of the unformed, moving matter by the original formative principle, but which were able to transform themselves through successive generations, and improve themselves by means of heredity in such a way that they developed the later forms out of the older ones. The new ones were then adapted to the new Earth conditions. While those forms which in olden times were so strongly penetrated by the formative principle that they could not be reshaped had to die out, those organizations which had remained more movable in themselves, in which the living was not yet fashioned so strongly, could remodel themselves and thus develop themselves further on in successive generations.
With regard to man, development shows itself as follows: In olden times we cannot see him in such forms as can be seen with outer external eyes, but we find him in matter of such a fine, unfashioned, moving kind that in times where animals were already present, he could have become everything. Man was the last to descend out of the unformed into shape, into form. Whereas the animals which are today on Earth had already earlier taken up the formative principle so that they had to reshape their earlier figure in adapting to the transformation of the Earth, man did not prevail himself to descend in solid form during old conditions, but waited until Earth had approximately the distribution of air and water that it now has. As late as then a condensation of the scarcely-shaped matter into the human figure took place for man. Because man entered out of the unformed and into shaped form so late, he appeared so that he is therefore adapted not only to certain specific Earth conditions, but to the whole Earth. Going back to the animals, however, we must imagine their origin in such a way that determined forms had adapted themselves to quite determined territories of the Earth. These animals then got the form, which by no means is still similar to today's offspring, but which was adapted to conditions then. But because they were adapted only to territorial conditions which in certain regions changed quickly, they could develop only in determined limits. But at the time when Earth was liable to quick changes, man had not entered into a form, but only later, when it was possible to put formation into his bodily nature over the whole surface of the Earth in such a way that he, as man, was adapted to the Earth as a whole. Thus man could populate Earth as a being which is adapted least of all to external conditions, and most of all to internal motive powers. Man was, from the outset, thus adapted to the formative powers in such a manner that his inner being corresponded with the spiritual, that the formative powers could work immediately in the soul, making his outer physical form an upright one, making his hands as living tools for the spirit, and his larynx a living instrument for the spirit. But all this could only happen when earth had passed through certain principles of formation. Thus man had to be adapted no longer immediately to external life, but to that which determined out of his inner being, what was his figure and presentation in life — so that with man, the formative principle determines his figure indirectly through the spiritual, while with the animal the formative principle had to work much more into the lifeless and inorganic. We can today still perceive in animals how they have connected their entire soul life more closely with their bodily nature, whereas man is able to develop a soul life which can lift itself up beyond the life of the body.
Let us look at the animal, how its soul life is plunged entirely into the bodily life, as it is formed, how the delight of digestion impregnates the body, how the soul life immediately penetrates the body and shows itself connected with its bodily functions. If we compare the way in which man's soul life lifts itself up beyond the bodily nature as something independent, we will see then that man is fashioned as he is because the animal world, adapted to other conditions of our earthly being, is fashioned out of the unformed earlier than man is. In man, such a soul being independent of the bodily life could become active only because man is able, within his being of soul, to keep the formative principle when he passes through the gate of death, and discards, to begin with, his bodily life. Because the formative principle has seized the animal's soul so much earlier that an intense connection with the bodily life was produced and because the animal thereby had to be entirely absorbed by its bodily life — for this reason that which is experienced in the single animal does not get detached (free) from the bodily life. With man, it gets free; it also keeps a formative principle, aside from the organic, physical substance; it can form a new bodily life again after the time between death and a new birth. Only because being seized immediately by the formative principle, can man's spiritual-soul being have that independence which enables him to go from life to life, which enables him to pass his being in repeated lives. On the other hand, we see that the intense connection with the form of being which had to be produced in animal between alternative principles and living matter brought it about that the formative principle, when the animal dies, is exhausted in the organic, and that the animal's soul falls back again into a general, animal soul-life and continues, not individually, but in a general, animal-like way, in a living on of the animal's group soul, not of a single animal soul.
Thus we see that we have to seek the origin of the animal (like) in the fact that that which penetrates into man later and permeates him in a later state, penetrates into the animal earlier. The animal is, as it were, left behind by the continuous principle of development; it is a backward being compared with man, who is an advanced being. We can easily imagine how this formation came to pass through a simple comparison, if we picture to ourselves a liquid in a glass, in which a substance is dissolved in such a manner that we cannot distinguish it from the liquid. If we let this solution stand, then a sediment deposits itself and the finer liquid remains. In this way we have then to imagine the whole progress of Earth evolution as the duality of the spiritual forming principle and the living substance below. And in the spiritual principle the formative principle for man is contained likewise. But for man the formlessness in this living substance remains the longest. For the animal, the shaping happens earlier, so that in a time when man has, as it were, preserved himself still above in an unformed, thinner, finer substance, the animal being below is already consolidated and lives on in such a way that below it can only get at more and more rigid forms, which change in the course of time. Over against this man, relating to the form, can be traced back only to that which is originally in a formless living, but into which the spirit works as a motive principle and brings it gradually to the present figure. Progressing further on, we also have to imagine the animal forms such that they are not produced from a single animal form; but while here and there certain animals formed themselves, others remained behind that formed themselves later; others again descended still later, etc. And then man descended latest.
It is remarkable that that which now has been said is entirely explained in such books as for instance those by Haeckel if we read them in the correct way. Indeed, it is stated that in his external appearance man is to be traced back to the animal. But if we continue the scale (trace back the scale to its source) we see that man at last is to be traced back to something which cannot refer to the present earthly conditions, but to imaginary living beings. And just so with animals — we find those beings to which Spiritual Science points out as hypothetical beings — also in Haeckel's pedigree — only these trace back not to something formed, but to something formless. It is now not possible to argue this further, but it results from my Occult Science that that which presents itself now as Earth has developed downward from earlier spiritual stages. That results in one not being able to say at all that Spiritual Science invents again, after all, only something unknown. No! At last the Earth is traced back to earlier planetary stages of being, just as man, relating to his present life, is traced back to earlier lives. And going back to earlier stages we find as the starting point of all life and of all matter not only a living entity, but also a spiritual one. We recognize as the starting point of all life the spirit, which we experience in us ourselves. Thus we trace back foundations to the spirit, which is something we have in ourselves, that means to something known, that is in ourselves, while external science traces itself back to something unknown. Spiritual Science is in another, different position from the present hypothetical doctrine of evolution. Spiritual Science traces evolution back not to something unknown, but to something which has been there, been present, as spiritual, and that also today can be experienced as spiritual. Only the spiritual living in us discloses itself in the same manner as it does in our glass; the thinner liquid is segregated from the more solid substance. The finer spiritual in man even disclosed itself as separated, secluded, just like the finer substance in the glass is segregated from the more solid one which has been deposited.
Thus we must trace back the animal world to the fact that man, in order to cultivate his spiritual nature as he has it today, had to begin with to separate from the whole animal world, so that he could develop himself as a finer spiritual being, above the basis of the animal world, just as in our comparison, the finer substance reveals itself when it has separated out the more solid substance below, on the bottom. Today these events can be pointed out only inasmuch as they demonstrate the origin of the animal world. It must be left for another lecture to explain in detail how the spiritual and soul nature developed later. Still it must be mentioned that the facts of immediate sense perception do not at all contradict this principle, and that it will arrive at the knowledge that progress really could not be otherwise than that set forth today — because do animals present themselves to us so that we need to speak about a special spirituality, only present in man? On the contrary! It will reveal itself to closer observation that there is sometimes much more intelligence among the animal world, and that man must first gain his intelligence, and that perhaps man's priority to an animal exists in the fact that he can achieve his little intelligence. Everywhere we look into the animal world — with the structure of the beaver's dam, of the insects, with the wasps, etc., we see intelligence at work, spirit holding sway, which makes use of the animals. We cannot say that this intelligence is in the single animal. We only need to refer to how certain insects take care of their offspring — there we see that we have a supersensible intelligence, ruling the species of animals, objective for the animal world, like matter itself is objective for the animal world. This we can perceive when the insect deposits its eggs so that the larva must live in quite different circumstances of life; perhaps the insect itself has lived in the air — the larva must live at first in the water. The insect doesn't know at all the conditions in which the larva must live; thus only an instinct, ruling it, can guide it to deposit the eggs there where the larva can live. Or let us observe animals such as the beaver, etc., which form with their organization, form what we can call outer architecture, grown from within themselves — then we are not far from admitting according to the laws of external observation that intelligence works into animal substance itself. When we look at man, we see that after he is present he has to appropriate, at first, those faculties which are already formed into animals. He is not so far advanced that he has within himself that which the animals have already formed in themselves. That is a measure by which we can see that the animals are formed earlier and that the forming of man is still going on after he is already born. Thus it is no proof that man originated from the apes when the natural scientist Emil Selenka found that the ape nature, in its embryo stage, is much nearer to man's figure than the later ape's figure. On the contrary, we can assume from this fact that the plan for man's figure was a more original one than that for the ape's figure; only that man realizes his figure late as he enters into Earth evolution.
Everywhere natural science shows in its facts that that which Spiritual Science has to say is proved, confirmed, just through the most advanced science. Yes, we could go even farther — I don't shy away from doing so! — and show how natural science today brings to light, as it were, something against their theories which furnishes full evidence for Spiritual Science. Just if we yield to such results of research as those about the propagation of lower animals through the brothers Oscar and Richard Hertwig in 1875 (what later on is confirmed many times) that the principle of fertilization; for instance with the eggs of the sea-hedgehog (echinus) — can be replaced through the influence of acids, that consequently a fertilization can come about out of a seemingly purely inorganic process — it must be said that processes which today are bound to the principle of heredity can only be imagined, and can happen, in such a way that they present themselves outwardly, while they have presented themselves quite differently in olden times. Thus we can speak very well about the fertilization of the living nucleus of the Earth (which was unformed living matter) by the spiritual formative principle flowing around it, by agreeing with the facts of natural science, so that the living had fashioned (formed) itself out of the formative principle, and that then the lifeless separated from the living, which was the uniform substance of the entire Earth.
Contemplating the origins of the animal world, it becomes clear to us that in truth the entire earthly existence reveals itself in such a way that we can understand it only along the lines of Goethe, who has said, but only by way of a hint, in such a way that results concerning the origin of man and animal have reality for the spiritual researcher. For if we turn our gaze to the whole world, by what means, in truth, does all that which surrounds us gain its real worth, its value? Only, as Goethe says, through mirroring at last in a human soul. For Spiritual Science, the natural Earth process shows itself really progressing from the oldest forms to the youngest ones, in such a way that everything is composed toward presenting man as the flower of the Earth form — as that which finally must be brought forth out of the Earth process, as likewise blossom or fruit is brought forth, finally, out of the plant. Thus from the contemplation of the origin of the animal world as a fundamental conviction of spiritual-scientific knowledge, results what we can consider in the following words, enlightening the human being, awakening the consciousness of the dignity of man, which is built up on the basis of every other being, and at the same time really imposing on us a responsibility: because we could become man only because the whole rest of Earth evolution was aimed at us, we must prove ourselves worthy of this Earth by endeavoring to progress from one stage of perfection to another: for evolution shows us that it is aiming at the shape of perfection of man. And that imposes on us the obligation that binds us not to stand still, but to move upwards to more and more sublime forming of spiritual life. This spiritual life which man carries in him today could be built up only on the basis of what is lower by pushing off what is material. So we must likewise assume that we must push off and leave to lower elements that which we carry in us today in order to develop a still higher spiritual life in us. Considering this, we can say that it is true for man, but also establishes what follows as his highest duty:
The elements let themselves be permeated
By forming spirit;
They must receive
The last impulse of the power of the spirit:
To clothe the human being
Into spirit form and soul life!
By forming spirit;
They must receive
The last impulse of the power of the spirit:
To clothe the human being
Into spirit form and soul life!