Saturday, April 25, 2020
The subhuman forces in us. God the All-Loving
The Mission of the Archangel Michael. Lecture 5
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, November 29, 1919:
Only through a knowledge of the most important and essential laws of human evolution can man attain a real consciousness that supports his soul. He must learn to know the events of human evolution and make them part of his question of taking fully into account — I made this remark already a few days ago — that the evolution of mankind is itself an evolution of a living entity. Just as there is ordered growth in the single human individual, so is there ordered growth in the evolution of the whole human race. And since the present is the moment when we have to become conscious of certain things, and since the human being has participated, during his repeated earth lives, in the various configurations of humanity's evolutionary history, it is also necessary to develop an understanding for the different human soul moods in the various epochs of mankind's evolution. I have often stated that what we call history today is really a fable convenue, a fable agreed upon, for the reason that the abstract recounting of events and the searching for cause and effect in historical processes in an external sense does not take into account the transformations, the metamorphoses of human soul life itself. When, from this point of view, we make tests, we can easily show that it is a prejudice to believe that the soul mood of modern man prevailed also in the times to which the first historical documents reach back. This is not the case. Human beings, even the simplest, most primitive, of the ninth and tenth post-Christian centuries had a soul mood completely different from that of human beings after the middle of the fifteenth century. We can trace this right into the lower strata of the human race, but also into the upper levels. Try, for instance, to familiarize yourselves with Dante's curious work about “Monarchy.” If you read such a thing, not as an oddity, but with a certain cultural-historical sagacity, then you will notice that such a book of a representative of his time contains things which could not possibly have been spoken out of the soul of a modern human being.
In this book, which was intended as a serious treatise about the legal and political foundations of monarchy, Dante tries to show that the Romans were the most excellent people of the world, as far as it was known at that time, was the primeval right of the Romans. He tries to show that the conquest of the whole earth by the Romans constituted a right greater than for instance the right of independence of single, smaller peoples; for it was the will of God that the Romans should rule over the various smaller peoples, for the latter's own good. Dante offers many proofs, out of the spirit of his time, why the Romans were justified in ruling the earth. One of these proofs is the following: He says: The Romans descend from Aeneas. Aeneas married three times. First, Creusa; through this marriage he acquired the right, as progenitor of the race, to rule Asia. Secondly, he married Dido; through this marriage he acquired the right, as ancestor of the Romans, to rule Africa. Then he married Lavinia; through this he acquired the right for the Romans to rule Europe. Herman Grimm, who once discussed this matter, made the telling remark: How fortunate that at the time America and Australia were not yet discovered!
But this sort of conclusion was something quite self-evident for an enlightened spirit of the time of Dante, indeed, for the most outstanding spirit of that time. This was a juridical presentation at that time. Now I ask you to imagine that any lawyer of the present age would draw such conclusions. You cannot imagine it. And you can just as little imagine that the mode of thought which Dante employs in regard to other subjects could arise in the soul constitution of a man of the present age.
Thus a quite obvious fact shows that we have to take into consideration the transformation of the soul constitutions of human beings. To fail to understand these things was tolerable in a certain way up to our time. But it will no longer do in our time, and quite especially will it not do for mankind in the future, for the simple reason that mankind, right up to our time, or at least up to the end of the eighteenth century, had certain instincts; (since the French Revolution matters have gradually changed, but still, old remnants remained of the soul constitutions in question.) Out of these instincts mankind was able to develop a consciousness which supported the soul. But in the present state of the constantly changing organism of mankind these instincts no longer exist and man must consciously acquire the connection with the whole of humanity. This is, after all, the deeper significance of the social question in our present time. What people state in their party platforms are only superficial formulations. That which surges in the depths of human souls expresses itself in such formulas; mankind feels that it is necessary to acquire a conscious relationship of the individual to the whole of humanity, that is, to acquire a social impulse.
Now, we cannot do so without focusing our attention upon the law of evolution. Let us do this once more after having done so repeatedly in regard to other questions. Let us take the time from the fourth post-Christian century up to the sixteenth post-Christian century. We see how Christianity bears the character of which I spoke yesterday and on previous occasions. We find that great care is taken during this period to understand the secrets of Golgotha through human concepts and ideas as they had been transmitted by Greek culture. Then a changed form of evolution sets in. We know that it really set in at an earlier time, around the middle of the fifteenth century; but it became clearly discernible only in the sixteenth century. At that time the natural-scientifically orientated thinking began to take hold of the upper level of mankind and to spread further and further.
Let us focus our attention upon this natural-scientific thinking in regard to a certain quality. There are many qualities of natural-scientifically orientated thinking which might be mentioned, but today we want to emphasize one quality in particular. It is the following: If we are a really efficient, modern thinker in the present sense, we are unable to cope with the problem of the necessity of nature and human freedom. The natural-scientific thinking of the modern age pressed onward more and more toward conceiving of the human being as a member of the rest of nature, the latter being considered a stream of causes and effects determining one another. Certainly, there exist today many human beings who see clearly that freedom, the experience of freedom, is a fact of human consciousness. But this does not prevent them from being unable to cope with this problem as they steep themselves in the special configuration of natural-scientific thinking. If we think about the being of man in the way modern natural science demands we are unable to reconcile this thinking with the thinking about human freedom. Some people take it very easy in regard to human freedom, in regard to the sense of human responsibility. I knew a professor of criminal law who began his lectures on criminal law every time with the following remarks: Gentlemen, I have to lecture to you on criminal law. Let us begin by assuming the axiom that there is human freedom and responsibility. For, if there were no human freedom and responsibility, there could be no criminal law. However, criminal law exists, for I have to lecture on it to you; therefore, responsibility and freedom exist also. — this argumentation is somewhat simple, but it points to the difficulty that arises for human beings when they have to ask the question: How can the necessity of nature be reconciled with freedom? It shows, in other words, how the human being has been forced more and more through the evolution of the last few centuries to acknowledge a certain omnipotence of the necessity of nature. One does not express it in these words; nevertheless, a certain omnipotence of natural necessity is conceived of. What is this omnipotence of natural necessity?
We shall understand one another best if I remind you of something which I have mentioned frequently. Modern thinkers believe that they act — or, rather, think — without prejudice, merely as scientific researchers, when they assert that man consists of body and soul. People, all the way up to the great philosopher Wilhelm Wundt — who is great, however, merely through the graces of his publisher — people maintain: if we think without prejudice, we have to consider man as consisting of body and soul, if we ascribe any validity to the soul at all. And only timidly does the truth make its appearance, namely, that man consists of body, soul, and spirit. The philosophers who consider themselves unbiased in their belief that man consists of body and soul do not know that their concept is merely the result of a historical process which had its starting point in the eighth Œcumencial council of Constantinople when the Roman-Catholic church abolished the spirit by establishing the dogma that henceforth the orthodox Christian was to think of man as consisting of body and soul, the soul having some spiritual qualities. This was a church law; philosophers still teach it today and do not know that they are merely following a church law. They believe they carry on unprejudiced science. This is the situation today in regard to many things called “unprejudiced science.”
The matter is similar in regard to the necessity of nature. During the whole evolution between the fourth and the sixteenth centuries the concept of god took on a quite particular form. If one takes into account the more intimate aspects of the spiritual evolution of these centuries, one will become aware of the fact that a quite definite concept of God was more and more elaborated in human thinking, a concept of God which culminated in the dictum: God, the Omnipotent, the All-Mighty. Few people know that it would have had no meaning for human beings prior to the fourth post-Christian century to speak of God, the All-Mighty. My dear friends, we do not engage in catechism truths; there you will, naturally, find: God is all-mighty, all-wise, all-benevolent. All these are things which have nothing to do with realities. Prior to the fourth century, nobody would have thought of considering omnipotence as a fundamental quality of the Divine Being if he had an understanding of these matters and really lived with them. For at that time the after-effect of the Greek concepts still held sway. In thinking about the Divine Being, people would not have spoken of God, the All-Mighty, but of God, the Omniscient, the All-Wise.
God, the All-Mighty
(Previously: God the All-Wise)
fourth century sixteenth century
Wisdom was considered the fundamental attribute of the Divine Being. The concept of Omnipotence only gradually penetrated the idea of the Divine Being, from the fourth century onward. It continued to develop. The concept of personality was abandoned and the predicate was transmitted to the mere order of nature, which is conceived of more and more mechanically. And the modern concept of the necessity of nature, the omnipotence of nature, is nothing but the result of the evolution of the concept of God from the fourth to the sixteenth century. Only, the qualities of personality were abandoned and that which constituted the concept of God was taken over into the structure of thinking about nature.
Now, my dear friends, the genuine natural scientists of today would oppose such statements vigorously. Just as many philosophers believe they are thinking without prejudice about man by considering him as consisting of body and soul, whereas in truth they merely follow the eighth Œcumenical Council of Constantinople in 869, — just as these philosophers are dependent upon a historical stream, so all the Haeckeleans, Darwinists, physicists with their natural order are dependent upon the theological stream that developed in the period from St. Augustine to Calvin. These things have to be comprehended. It is the peculiar character of every evolutionary stream that it comprises evolution as well as involution or devolution. And while the concept “God the All-Mighty” developed, there existed a sub-current in the subconscious spheres of human soul life, which then became the leading upper current: the nature necessity. (See diagram, red) And since the sixteenth century there exists a new sub-current which prepares precisely in our time to become an upper current. (blue.)
It is characteristic of the Michael age that that which has been prepared in the form of a sub-current of nature-necessity must henceforth become an upper current. But if we wish to acquire a possible concept of what it is that has thus prepared itself, we must understand the inner spirit of Earth evolution.
I recently drew your attention to the fact that what takes place in the evolution of the earth and of mankind in particular moves in a descending line. Earth humanity and the evolution of the earth itself is on the path of decadence. I drew your attention to the fact that this is today a recognized geological truth, that geologists who are to be taken seriously admit that the earth crust is in a process of decay. Mankind itself, in particular, is in a process of decay through the sensuous-earthly forces. And mankind, in its evolutionary process, must receive spiritual impulses which counteract decadence. Therefore a conscious spiritual life must enter mankind. We must be clear about the fact that we have already passed beyond the pinnacle of Earth evolution. In order that it may proceed, the spiritual must be taken up more and more clearly and distinctly.
At the outset, this seems an abstract fact. But for the spiritual researcher this is not an abstract fact. You know that we can trace the evolution of the Earth through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon states right into the Earth state. This evolution may also be characterized in the following way: if we speak of present mankind, we may consider the evolution of mankind through the Saturn, Sun and Moon periods as a preparation, as a pre-state. Only upon the Earth itself did man, as he received his ego, gain his true humanhood, and he will receive further elements into his true being during the subsequent evolutionary stages of the Earth.
Now you know that the so-called Archai, the present Spirits of Personality or Time Spirits, were in the Saturn state at the stage of evolution at which the human being is today, although in quite different forms, with a completely different outer aspect. I have expressed this in my books by saying: what we designate today as Archai, as Spirits of Personality, was man during the Saturn period. The Archangeloi were man during the Sun period, the Angeloi during the Moon period. During the Earth period we are man.
Our own evolution, of course, went on alongside all this, by way of preparation. If we go back to the Moon state we must say: Here the Angeloi were human beings, human beings, to be sure, with an appearance quite different from ours, for there were quite different conditions upon the ancient Moon. But alongside these Moon men, the Angeloi, we developed in a pre-state of the Earth evolution, in a very advanced state, so that we had to be taken into consideration by the Angeloi. Especially during the descending phase of the Moon evolution did we, at times, constitute a troublesome concern for the Angeloi. The same, however, is the case with us in descending Earth evolution: since the Earth evolution has entered its descending phases, other beings make themselves felt. My dear friends, it is a significant, an important result of spiritual-scientific research which is to be taken very, very seriously, that we have already entered the period of Earth evolution when certain beings make themselves felt who upon Jupiter — the next state of Earth evolution — will have advanced to the form of man, a different form of man, to be sure, but which, nevertheless, may be compared with the being of man. For we will be different beings on Jupiter. These so-to-speak Jupiter men exist already now just as we existed upon the Moon. They exist, of course not externally visible; but I explained to you recently what it means to be externally visible, and that man is also a super-sensible being. Supersensibily these beings are very decidedly present.
I emphasize once more: it is an extremely serious truth that certain beings make themselves felt which exist in the environment of mankind. They make themselves felt more and more since the middle of the fifteenth century. These beings possess chiefly the impulse of a force which is very similar to the human force of will, that force of will of which I told you yesterday that it exists in the deeper strata of the human consciousness. These invisible beings are related to that element of which ordinary consciousness thus remains unconscious today; but they already make themselves very strongly felt in the development of present-day humanity.
For the person who takes spiritual research truly seriously this is a problem of great magnitude. I was confronted with this problem especially strongly — at the time I spoke to a number of our friends about it in one or another form — I was confronted with this problem in a demanding fashion, as it were, when, in the year 1914, this war catastrophe broke in upon us. One had to ask oneself: How did an event overtake European mankind which it is impossible to gauge as to its causes in the way that is customary in regard to previous historical events? The one who knows that not more than thirty or forty people participated in Europe in the decisive events of the year 1914, and who also knows the soul condition in which most of these people were, will be confronted by this significant problem. For most of these people, as strange as it may sound today, my dear friends, most of these people had a dulled, obscured state of consciousness. During the last few years much has occurred that was caused by a dulled human consciousness. In the decisive places of the year 1914 we see everywhere that the most important decisions of the end of July and the beginning of August were reached with an obscured consciousness; and this has continued on right into our present day. This is a problem, terrifying in its nature. If we investigate it spiritual-scientifically, then we find that these obscured consciousnesses were the gateways through which precisely these will-beings were able to take possession of the consciousness of these men; they took possession of the obscured, veiled consciousness of these human beings and acted with their consciousness. And these beings who thus took possession, who are still sub-human beings, what kind of beings are they? We have to pose this question very seriously: What kind of beings are they?
Well, my dear friends, we have asked about the origin of human intelligence, about the origin of human intelligent behavior which, stating it simply, has its instrument in our head organism. And we have seen that this intelligent constitution of our soul stems from that deed of the Archangel Michael which is commonly presented in the symbol of the fall, the casting down of the Dragon. This is actually a very trivial symbol. For, if we really conceive of Michael and the Dragon, we have to visualize, first, the Michael Being, and, secondly, the Dragon who, in reality, consists of all that which enters into our so-called reason, into our intelligence. Not into a hell does Michael cast his opposing hosts, but into the human heads; there this Luciferic impulse continues to live. I have characterized human intelligence as an actual Luciferic impulse. Thus we may say: if we look back into the evolution of the Earth, we find the Michael-deed, and to this Michael-deed is joined the illumination of man by his reason.
The sub-human beings whose main character consists of an impulse which strongly coincides with human willing, with the human power of will, now appear from below, as it were, whereas the hosts of forces cast down by Michael came from above; and while these latter took possession of the human power of will; they unite themselves with it and are beings produced by the realm of Ahriman. Ahrimanic influences acted through those obscured consciousnesses. Indeed, my dear friends, as long as one does not take into consideration these forces as forces objectively existing in the world just as one takes into consideration what today is called magnetism, electricity, and so forth, one will not gain an insight into that nature which, according to Goethe's prose Hymn to Nature, comprises man. For nature, as it is conceived of in today's natural science does not contain man, but merely the human physical self.
At the beginning of Earth becoming we have to do with a downfall of Luciferic beings; today we have a rise of Ahrimanic beings. The former beings influence the Luciferic power of thought, the latter the human power of will; we have to recognize the arrival of these latter beings within the evolution of mankind. We have to realize that these beings arrive and that we have to reckon with a conception of nature which, to be sure, for the time being only includes man; for the animal kingdom will only be included later on in the Earth period. Upon the animal these beings have no influences as yet. We shall not comprehend the human race without taking these beings into consideration. And these beings, who are, as it were, pushed from behind, for behind them there stands the Ahrimanic power which endows them with their strong will power, which pours into them their directive forces, — these beings who as such are sub-human beings are controlled in their totality by higher Ahrimanic spirits and thus contain something which far surpasses their own nature and being. Therefore they show something in their appearance which, if it takes the human being captive, acts much more strongly, very much more strongly than that which the weak human being can control today, if he does not strengthen it through the spirit. What is the aim of this host? Well, my dear friends, just as the hosts which Michael has pushed down have aimed at human illumination, at human permeation with reason, so these hosts aim at a certain permeation of human willing. And what do they want? They burrow, as it were, in the deepest stratum of consciousness in which the human being is still asleep today in his waking state. Man does not notice how these beings enter his soul and also his body. Here they suck in, with their power of attraction, everything that has remained Luciferic, that has not become Christ-permeated. This they can reach: this they can take possession of.
My dear friends, our time raises these problems for us. We must no longer pass by these things. They are not convenient. For it has become convenient for human beings to think differently, that is, not to think at all about man, not to take him into consideration at all. And it is not without danger to speak about these things in complete truth at a time when many people do not at all love the sense for truth, quite apart from the fact that false sentimentality might find these things a psychic cruelty.
The result of the comprehension of these things, however, will be a thorough grasp of the necessity of the Christ impulse. One must recognize where the Christ impulse is lacking. Yesterday we showed that in the middle stratum of consciousness the Christ impulse takes hold of the middle stratum of consciousness, if man really permeates himself with the Christ, then these Ahrimanic powers cannot penetrate through this middle stratum, upward, and they cannot, with their spiritual forces, pull down the intellectual forces. Everything depends on that.
It is very necessary today that we recognize the nature of the influences which come to us from extra-human, sub-human beings which in turn are influenced by other beings. They are just as important as many influences which are only rooted in the world of man. A week ago I talked to you about the Michael influence. I have characterized this Michael influence for you. It is a very necessary one. For just as it is true that the Michael influence has brought about the Luciferic influencing of human intelligence, so true is it that now the counter-pole arises, namely, the appearance of certain Ahrimanic beings. And only through the constant activity of Michael is the human being armed against that which arises there. Even physiologically it is dangerous today to cling to mere nature necessity, to that kind of fatalism which is expressed in nature necessity. For education, through school and through life, in the concepts which are merely based upon nature necessity, upon the omnipotence of nature necessity, weakens the human head, and human beings become thereby so strongly passive in regard to their consciousness, that other forces are able to enter this consciousness, and human beings will fail to acquire the strength that is necessary for the reception into the human soul of the Christ impulse in its present form.
It is my duty, as it were, my dear friends, to speak at this time of the subject of which I have begun to speak today (I shall continue it tomorrow): of the appearance of certain Ahrimanic beings, which we have to take into account. Of this appearance numerous people upon earth are cognizant today. But they give it the wrong interpretation. They interpret it wrongly for the reason that they know nothing of the real triad Christ-Lucifer-Ahriman, or do not wish to know anything about it, but jumble up Ahriman and Lucifer. Then discrimination is impossible; then it is impossible properly to recognize the true fundamental character of these Ahrimanic beings who now arise. Only if we clearly elaborate the Ahrimanic element and know the nature of the super-sensible influences which now arise as the counterpart, as it were, of Michael's casting down of the Dragon. It is like a lifting up, out of Ahrimanic depths, of certain beings. And these beings find special points of attack in the human being if the latter yields to unbridled instinctive impulses and does not strive for clarity in relation to them.
Now, there exists today a method I might call it an anti-method, of concealing the instinctive element, by putting down a concept and pushing another over it, so that it is impossible to form a proper judgment concerning it. Just think of the battle cry of the proletariat of the modern age. Behind this battle cry there stand very justified demands of mankind — I have often dealt with this. But these demands are not, to begin with, appealed to. In our idea of the three-fold social order they are appealed to for the first time. Something essentially different is appealed to: Proletarians of all countries, unite! What does this mean? It means: Foster your antipathy against the other classes, foster, as individuals, what resembles hate, and unite; that means, love one another, unite your feelings of hate, look for the love of one class, search among you for the love of the members of one class out of hate. Love one another out of hate, on the basis of hate. — There you have put down two concepts of opposing poles. This pushing back of instincts makes man's conceptions so nebulous, rendering him unable to know what he is dealing with in his own self. There actually exists a kind of anti-method, if I may use the paradoxical expression, in order to obscure, through present-day human thinking, the holding sway of an instinctive life which offers especially strong points of attack for the described Ahrimanic beings.