Wednesday, May 20, 2020
The Origin and Purpose of Evil; Christ the Redeemer; Human Beings as the Spirits of Freedom and Love
The Spiritual Hierarchies and the Physical World. Lecture 10 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Düsseldorf, April 18, 1909:
Apart from the question put at the end of yesterday's lecture, it would be within the scope of this course of lectures to explain much more; but it is impossible to exhaust in ten lectures all there is to be said about our worlds. Therefore I beg you to allow me to make yet a few observations before I touch on our question, especially as these observations are connected with it.
The first observation I have to make is difficult, perhaps even almost impossible of comprehension by the consciousness of the present day; but it is good to know that something of the sort exists. It is the question: In what way do these planetary formations really disappear again? It is clear to you how development spiritually proceeds: beings arise to higher stages, and while they are rising they have to forsake the old place of habitation which afforded them for a time the possibility for developing certain capacities which they otherwise could not have achieved. When in the course of evolution that time approached which we call the Lemurian, man had reached so far in his general development that he had already repeated all that there was to be gained out of the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions. He now appeared on the dwelling-place destined for our Earth evolution, which had only just been formed. He developed through the Lemurian and Atlantean times on into our times, and he will continue to develop on into the future, as we know — from one incarnation to the other. But after a certain time that human being will have to leave the Earth, to forsake it, because it will not have anything more to give him, and will afford him no more possibilities of development. Now, you might perhaps imagine that our Earth would become a sort of deserted rubbish-heap when man had left it; you might compare it to a town which had been deserted by its entire population. You know what such a town looks like after a short time; it gradually turns into a mound of earth. We get an adequate idea of this in seeing towns which have been given over to nature. But it will not be so in the future of the Earth. The following consideration will give you an idea of what that future will be like: what does such a genius, for instance, as Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael, signify for the earthly development of men? What importance for the Earth's development have those wonderful works of Michelangelo or Raphael, which are still today enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people? Perhaps some of you have felt a certain sadness looking at the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci, when you have asked yourselves, standing in front of that wonderful work in Milan: How long it would still last? For one must not forget that Goethe, in his first journey to Italy, still saw that work of art in all its beauty and freshness, as we cannot see it any more. But, from the time of Goethe's youth to our time, this work of art has so far perished as regards the external, material world that it calls forth in us feelings of sadness. For people who will live as late after us as we are now after Goethe, that picture will not exist any more. So it is with everything men create upon Earth, with everything which is incarnated into physical matter upon Earth. In reality it is so also with the Earth itself, and with the creations of human thought. Put yourselves now in thought into that time when the spiritualized men will have risen into higher spheres. Thoughts in the sense of today — I do not mean scientific thoughts, for these will entirely lose their importance in three or four hundred years — but thoughts of men in general, as they come forth from a human mind, have naturally no importance for the higher worlds, but have it only for the Earth. But when man shall have left the Earth, what will have happened to all his past creations on Earth, through all the hundreds and thousands of years that are past?
The evolution of the individual is naturally the thing to be first spiritually considered. Leonardo da Vinci has risen higher through what he has achieved; that is his ascent. But we ask ourselves whether the great thoughts, the great impulses, which great men have imprinted on the substance of the Earth, do not have any importance for the future of the Earth? Will the future break and grind the Earth into dust, and will all that man has made out of the Earth disappear together with its existence? You admire the Cathedral of Cologne. In a comparatively short time there will certainly not be one stone of it lying on the other; but the fact that man once expressed his thoughts in stone in this cathedral, will that have no significance for the whole Earth? We are now disregarding that which man takes with him away from the Earth, we are considering the Earth itself. We see that, in fact, a planet grows always smaller in the course of its development. It contracts. That is the destiny of the substance of planets; but it is not all, that is only something which the physical eye and physical instruments can observe in the planets. There is a further development of the material substance — beyond that point.
Let us now consider this further development of matter, and with this I am touching on what I said will perhaps be impossible for you to understand with the comprehension of the present day. It is a fact that the Earth is continually contracting; hence matter tends towards the center from all sides. And now I say — be it understood consciously, not only fully conscious of the law of the conservation of force, but also fully conscious of facts known to every occultist — I say: Matter draws together more and more towards a center — and the strange thing is that in that center matter disappears.
Imagine that you have a piece of something which contracts more and more toward its center. In its center it disappears. It does not get pushed over to its other side, it absolutely disappears into nothing in its own central point! So that you can imagine to yourselves that, as the material parts contract toward the center, the whole of the Earth will some day disappear in that central point. But this is not all: in the same measure in which it disappears in the central point, it reappears again in the circumference. Out there in space it is coming back again. At one point in space matter disappears, and emerges again at another. Out there it is coming forth anew. The substance disappears in one place and from outside it returns again. But it returns in such a way that it brings back with it all that the beings who have worked on the planets have imprinted on its substance — naturally not in its present form, but in a form which this transformation has given to it. In this way you see the Cathedral of Cologne returning from the other side, its material particles having disappeared in the center. Nothing, absolutely nothing, of that which has been accomplished on a planet is ever lost, it all comes back again from the other side.
That which happened in the beginnings of our evolution, before the Saturn development, we must place outside, beyond the Zodiac. Primeval wisdom called it the Crystal Heaven, and in that Crystal Heaven were deposed all the deeds of the beings of a former evolution. They formed, so to speak, the foundation on which the new beings began to create.
As we said before, all this is extremely difficult for the modern mind to understand, because it is in the habit of considering matter only, and because it is not in the habit of conceiving that outside of three-dimensional space matter can disappear and reappear at another place after it has passed through other dimensions. You cannot grasp this so long as your ideas remain in the space of three dimensions, for this goes beyond the three dimensions. Therefore it cannot be seen until it returns again from the other side into the space of three dimensions. In the meantime, it is in other dimensions.
It is a thing which we have to grasp; for the conditions of our world's origin have manifold connections, and something which is to be found in some one place may often have a complicated connection with something else which is in quite a different place outside three-dimensional space.
We have said that our planetary formation began with ancient Saturn, and it really did begin then. It then advanced to Jupiter. When the whole creation of Jupiter began, all the beings in the surrounding space also took part in it, as you know. But just as all the beings who are active within the whole expanse of our planetary system are developing further, so also are the beings outside our system, those who are sending in their influence from surrounding spaces. As some of the surrounding beings withdrew, so did also some of the beings who were outside in universal spaces; some of these also withdrew; and as Jupiter contracted, something was also withdrawn by the beings who retired, something which had nothing to do with our evolution at all, but which along with the withdrawing beings formed first Uranus, and then Neptune during the Mars development. The names of Uranus and Neptune were, of course, not chosen to suit the subjects in the way the ancients chose names — although in the name Uranus some meaning still is left; it was given when people still had some feeling for the meaning of names; therefore, all that lies outside our circle was generically called Uranus.
Thus we see that the two planets which our astronomers of the present day consider as having the same significance as the other planets stand on a totally different footing, and fundamentally speaking have nothing to do with the creation of our world; they represent those worlds which have come into existence because beings who, during the Saturn period, still had something to do with us, have withdrawn and have found their places of habitation outside our world. We shall gather other facts from this, for instance, that those planets have retrograding moons, and so on.
Thus we have sketched the origin of our solar system and have asked ourselves: What position has man toward those beings of the higher hierarchies who, fundamentally speaking, were his human forefathers? We can begin with the highest — the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the Thrones — and in describing them, get a good idea of man. If we could rise beyond the Seraphim, we should get into the realm of the Divine Trinity. What is it then that the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones have in particular, that is different from all the other beings in the world? They have what is called ‘the direct sight of God.’ That which man has to seek for slowly and gradually, throughout his development, is theirs from the beginning of all time. We men say that we must start from our modern standpoint to acquire ever greater powers of knowledge, of will, etc.; thus we shall rise ever nearer and nearer to the Godhead; Divinity will become ever more present to us. We say to ourselves: We are developing upward, toward something which is still veiled from us, toward the Godhead. This is the difference between the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones and men: that since the beginning of our development these highest beings have enjoyed the direct sight of the Godhead, have been in the near presence of the Divine Trinity. That whereunto men have to evolve has been theirs from the very beginning.
Thus it is immensely important for us to know that these beings came into existence seeing God; that as they live, so also they are in the sight of God.
All they do, all they achieve, they do through the vision they have of God, God does it through them. They could not do otherwise, it would be impossible for them to act otherwise than they do; for the sight of God has such power, such an influence upon them, that with a direct certainty, with immediate impulse, they put into action all that they receive from the Godhead. Anything like deliberation, judgment, consideration does not exist in the sphere of those beings. For them, there only exists the sight of the commands of the Godhead, the reception of the immediate impulse to put into action that which they have seen. And they also behold the Godhead in its original true form; they see the Godhead as it is. But they only see themselves as those who fulfill the will and the wisdom of God. These are the conditions of the highest hierarchies.
When we descend to the next hierarchy, to those beings whom we call the Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form, we have to say that they have not such direct vision of the Godhead, they do not see God in His immediate aspect as He is, but in His revelations in the way He — if I may express it so — reveals Himself through His countenance. Certainly it is unmistakable for them that it is the Godhead; they feel the immediate impulse to follow the revelations of the Godhead, just as with the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. The impulse is not so strong, but it still is a direct one. It would be impossible for the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones to say that they would not put into action that which they see prescribed for them, so to speak, by the Godhead; that would be unthinkable because of their nearness to the Godhead. But it would also be in a certain way quite impossible for those Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form to undertake that which the Godhead Itself did not want them to undertake.
Therefore, if development was to progress, something quite particular had to come into action. We now touch on a point which is always difficult for men to understand, even for those who have advanced to a certain degree of the Mystery-Wisdom. In the ancient Mysteries they tried to make it comprehensible in the following way: At a certain stage of initiation into the ancient Mysteries, the neophyte was led by hostile powers, who had a cruel and horrible appearance, and who also enacted cruel and horrible deeds in the sight of the neophyte. Those who performed these deeds were no other than masked priests, masked sages. To bring about the necessary temptations and ordeals, priests had to disguise themselves in devilish shapes, as terrible beings who performed the most terrific and the most abominable deeds which the mind of man could ever imagine. What did this mean? To show to the neophyte how far development could err from the right path, the priest himself, under the guise of the evil-doer, had to represent that evil before his eyes. He had to have the illusion that evil itself stood before him, and only when the evil was unmasked did he see the truth; then the illusion was taken away, and he knew he had had to do with a trial. To make him strong, to arm him against evil, it was represented to him in its most terrific aspect, represented by the wise priests themselves, who certainly did not err in truth. It was only a reflection of that which had really taken place within the cosmic development.
In the time between the Jupiter and the Mars development — if I dare express myself in trivial words — a number of beings from the sphere of the Mights or Spirits of Motion were detached; they were placed in such a manner within the course of evolution that, instead of helping it onward, they had to put hindrance in its way. Thus the deeds of — if I may coin the word — ‘adversely commanded’ Mights were thrown athwart the course of evolution. For the ruling world-powers of the hierarchies said to themselves: ‘Never could that arise which has to arise if the way were always smooth. Greater things must take place.’ Imagine that you have a car to push. You develop your strength by pushing it. If heavy ballast is put into the car it will be heavier to push, but you would develop greater strength. Suppose the Godhead had let the world's evolution remain as it was: up to the time just after the Jupiter evolution, men could have certainly developed very well; but humanity could have become still stronger if hindrance had been in its way. For the good of humanity, certain Mights or Spirits of Motion had to receive adverse commands. These were not evil at first: one need not consider them as evil powers — one might even say they sacrificed themselves by putting obstacles into the way of development. Therefore these Mights may be called the gods of hindrance, of impediment, in the widest sense of the word. They are the gods of the impediments and hindrances placed in the way, on the high-road of development. And from that moment, the possibility was given for all that was achieved in the future. These ‘adversely commanded’ Mights were not yet evil in themselves; on the contrary, they were the great promoters of development, promoting it through the storms they produced — but they were the breeders of evil; for out of the storms they produced, evil gradually arose.
Naturally, the path of development of these ‘adversely commanded’ Mights shaped itself quite differently from that of their brothers; their action was quite different, and the result was that, during the Moon development, they became the tempters, the seducers, of those beings we call Angels. The Angels were passing through their human stage during the Moon development. There were Angel-men on the Moon who, so to speak, looked at the way the hindrances acted on development, and who said to themselves: ‘We can now put ourselves in the way of conquering the hindrances, we can plunge into the whole stream of the Moon's evolution — but we prefer to pass it by, we do not want to plunge into it, we want to remain above with the good gods.’ These Angels tore themselves away, at a certain moment of the Moon's development, from the Mights who were throwing hindering influence down into the Moon evolution. But there were other Angels who said to themselves: ‘We will not follow our brothers, for if we follow them, development would turn back, nothing new would be embodied in it.’ Just because of the existence of these hindering influences, something new was infused into evolution, from the time of the Moon onward. Those beings who said to themselves: ‘I shall have nothing to do with that which is going on down there, I shall stay with the Mights who do not wish to be tainted by anything low,’ these withdrew from the mass of the Moon and became part of the followers of all that is connected with the Sun. They would not have anything to do with what was proceeding on the forsaken Moon, when all the hindering powers held sway. But the other beings, who plunged down into it, had now to take into their bodily nature (which they received on the Moon) all the hindering influences that existed there. They had to harden themselves more, as it were, than would otherwise have been the case. Their bodily sheaths became denser than they would otherwise have been. In their bodies were implanted the consequences of the deeds of the Mights, but these deeds were well rooted in the divine plan of the world — we must keep that well in mind. A further result of this was, that as the Moon development passed on into that of the Earth, the whole process was repeated, and those beings who had plunged into the full tide of the Moon's development remained behind those who would have nothing to do with it — and others remained still further back, and were attracted by the retrograding development. The result of all this was that during the Earth evolution Angel-men existed who were advanced — and others who were retrograde.
The advanced Angel-men approached the men of the Earth during the time when, in Lemuria, they were ripe to receive the germ of the human ‘I’ and gave them the choice, as it were, to rise into the spiritual worlds, then, and not to have anything further to do with that which since the time of the Moon had mingled with the course of the world's development. The beings who had stayed behind, whom we call the Luciferic beings, came into touch with the human astral body — they could not approach the ‘I’ — and grafted into that astral body all the results of the fight in heaven. While to the Mights was assigned the fight in heaven — for they were created Gods of Hindrance — the consequences of their deeds now slipped into the human astral body, and there signified something else: they signified the possibility of error and the possibility of evil. Man had now been given the possibility of error and of evil, with the object that he should also have the possibility of rising above evil and error, through his own strength.
Now consider that such beings as the Mights, belonging to the second threefold hierarchy, could not have had the power to become evil of their own free will; they had to be ‘adversely commanded;’ and it was the beings of the third threefold hierarchy, and only those who stand nearest to man, the Angels, who first had it in their power to follow, or not to follow, the hindering powers. Those who did not follow we always find represented in the pictures which illustrate the victories fought out in heaven. They express what happened during the Moon development, when Man had progressed as far as the organization of his astral body, that is to the human-animal stage. Then those Angel beings who, so to speak, remained good tore themselves away from the course of the Moon development; they escaped from what was going on down there on the Moon. And this picture is represented to the soul of man in different ways. It was originally represented in the fight of Michael with the dragon. You see it also in the symbol of the Bull of Mithra, where it is specially clearly expressed. It is, of course, not meant that in doing this these Angel beings avoided their duty, but they were put forth as an ideal for the future. ‘These beings’ — it was said — ‘preferred to rise into the spiritual worlds, whereas you have descended. Other beings came down with you, those who followed the powers of hindrance. You must now work upon that which you have absorbed in this descent, and carry it up again into the spiritual world; when you rise again you must become a Michael, a conqueror of the Bull.’ For every symbol of this kind is used in a twofold sense.
Thus we see that because those ‘Mights’ were given certain orders, men first received the possibility of reaching their goal by their own strength, a thing which even the highest Seraphim cannot do of themselves. This is very essential. The Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones cannot do otherwise than follow the immediate impulses given them by the Godhead. The Dominions of the second threefold hierarchy, too, cannot do otherwise. A certain number of the Mights were ordered to oppose, so that those Mights also, who as it were threw themselves into the way of development, could not do otherwise than follow the orders of the Godhead. In what is called the ‘origin of evil’ they could but perform the will of the Godhead, who by means of evil wishes to develop more powerful good.
Now let us descend to those beings we call the Powers, or Spirits of Form. They also could not have come to this of themselves. They could not have grown wicked of themselves, nor could the Spirits of Personality, nor could the Spirits of Fire. For, when these were men on the Sun, the Mights had not yet been ordered to oppose, there was as yet no possibility of becoming wicked. The first who had the possibility of becoming evil were the Angels, for this could only happen after the development of the Moon. There, from the Sun to the Moon, the Fight in Heaven took place. A part of the Angels avoided this possibility: they would not be seduced by the forces which had to introduce hindrances; they held to the way of the old nature. Thus, as far down as the Angels, or part of them, we have beings who are absolutely unable to do otherwise than follow the divine will. It is essential to remember this.
We now come to two categories of beings. First those Angels who fling themselves into that which the Mights produced during the Fight in Heaven; these are beings who on account of their later deeds we call Luciferic. These beings became united to the human astral bodies during the Earth evolution and gave to men the possibility of evil, and also the possibility of developing through their own free power; so that in the whole sequence of hierarchies we have only men, and some of the Angels, who have the possibility of freedom. In the midst of the ranks of the Angels the possibility of freedom begins, but it is first fully developed in men. When man entered the Earth, he had at the beginning to be assailed by the power of the Luciferic Spirits; they penetrated the human astral body with their force. The ‘I’ was therefore attracted toward those forces, so that during the Lemurian and Atlantean evolutions, and even later, we have the ‘I’ as in a cloud, as sheathed in a cloud, which was produced by the assaults of Lucifer. Man was saved from being overpowered by these forces which penetrated him, only because he was overshadowed by earlier beings, because Angels who had remained above, and also Archangels, came down from the spirit world, incarnated into special individuals and guided men. And this continued up to the time when something quite particular took place: when a being, whose existence up to then had always been united to the existence of the Sun, when a being had progressed so far as to be able to penetrate not only the physical, etheric, and astral bodies of men, as former exalted beings had done, but to penetrate into man even as far as his ego.
You remember how I described that in former times higher beings descended and ensouled the human physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Now at a special time an individual arose who was chosen to receive into him the highest being — a being who was at first united to our Sun existence, but who now entered into and worked inspiringly in all the powers of this individual's ego.
The ‘I’ expresses itself through the blood. Just as the material substance of blood is the expression of the ‘I’, so the warmth or fire of the blood, which is the remnant of the Saturn fire, is the expression of the ego in the elements. This being had to find expression physically in a twofold way — first through fire. It proclaimed itself to Moses through fire in the burning bush and in the thunder and lightning on Sinai. For it is the same being who later was able to penetrate into the human ‘I’ who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and in the thunder and lightning on Sinai. This being prepared its advent, and appeared in a body in which blood flowed — in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Through this, a Sun-Being entered into an earthly individuality. Because the human ego will be filled ever more and more by the force which then entered into it, it will become ever more and more capable of overcoming by its own power the influences which can pull it down. For the being who could penetrate into the ego of man is of a different nature from those other beings who formerly descended to Earth and ensouled physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Let us take the ancient holy rishis. In their etheric body there was, as we have seen, the spirit of a high being; they had inherited that etheric body from great Atlantean forefathers in whom that exalted being had lived. It was passed over to them. They could not follow at all with their ego and their astral body the things which their etheric body expressed in the moments of inspiration. And so it happened from epoch to epoch. Men were inspired; it was always as if a power was in them, something that took strong possession of them. From what man was capable of in himself — he was withdrawn, in order to become better. He was inspired by a better being. This was the case with all founders of religions. They were ensouled by a being who was still high above the Fight in Heaven, so that they were not left completely to themselves.
In the Christ there appeared a being of a quite different nature, who did nothing, nothing at all, to force people to come to Him. And this is essential! If you take the whole manner in which Christianity was propagated you will find a living proof that the Christ during His life did nothing of what was done later for the propagation of Christianity. Look at the founders of religion of the ancient times! They are the great teachers of humanity: they taught from a certain period in our development, and their teaching acted on men in an overwhelming way. Look at the Christ! Does He, fundamentally speaking, work through His teaching? The man who thinks that His teaching is the most important part does not understand the Christ. The Christ did not in the first place act at all through His teaching, but through that which He did. And the greatest deed of the Christ was that which ended with death, was His Death. This is the essential point, that the Christ acted though a deed, and when this deed spread through the world, He was not any more physically present. This is the great difference between the Christ and the other great founders of religions. This difference is not at all understood as yet, but is essential. You can follow all the teachings of Christianity, all that is preached as Christianity, and you can find it all in other religious systems. This cannot be denied. You can say: ‘All the essential part of Christian teaching is included in other teachings.’ But has Christianity been operative in the contents of its teaching? He who at first did what was most essential toward spreading the essence of Christianity, did he rely on its teaching? Look at the Apostle Paul! Was he transformed from a Saul to a Paul by what is written in the Gospels? He persecuted the followers of Christ Jesus. He persecuted them until He who died on the Cross appeared to him from the clouds, until he, Paul, had his own personal occult experience of the fact that Christ lived. It was the effect of that death, the result of that deed, which gave the impulse to Paul — this was the cause of it all. Other religious systems act through their teachings, and their teachings are the same as in Christianity — but the essential thing in Christianity is not the teaching, but what happened, the deed. And this deed is such that it does not act upon man except when man makes up his mind to let it act upon him, that is, when it can be joined to the absolutely free character of his ego. For it is not sufficient that the Christ should be present in the man's astral body: He must be present in his ego if He is to be really understood. And the ego must decide in complete freedom, voluntarily, to receive the Christ. This it is with which we are concerned, this is the point. Just because of this, the human ego, when it unites with the Christ, receives into itself a reality, a divine force which is not a mere teaching. Therefore it can be asserted a hundred times that the teachings of Christianity are to be found in other religions — but this is not the question: the fact is that the essential thing in Christianity is the deed which can become one's own possession only through free will, through a voluntary ascent into the higher worlds. Man takes the Christ-force into himself, because he voluntarily receives it, and no one can receive it who does not do so voluntarily. This has only been made possible for man because he has become human upon Earth, because he was called to grow into man on Earth.
The fallen Angels who have spread over the Earth as Lucifer are in a different position. These ought really to have become men on the Moon; they have remained behind in their development; hence they can enter the astral body but not the ego. They are in a peculiar position, a position which we can only describe graphically, even if it appears somewhat pedantic.
Let us suppose, leaving aside the physical and etheric body, that the astral body of man during the Lemurian development was represented by the circle A-B-C, and the ego was the circle enclosed (a) in that astral body. The ego gradually entered the astral body. What happens now? During the Lemurian development the Luciferic forces slip on all sides into the man's astral body and penetrate him with their activities, which find expression in his lower passions. That through which he succumbs to error and evil is rooted in his astral body; the Luciferic spirits have implanted this into him. (If they had not done this he would never have had the possibility of error and evil, he would have been lifted up to the place whence he receives his ego, untouched by all hindering influences.) So it goes on, but the great leaders protect humanity as far as it is necessary so that it should not sink too low.
Now comes the Advent of the Christ. Let us take a man who has voluntarily received the Christ. Christianity is only at its beginning. But let us take the ideal: the man's ego has voluntarily, with complete free will, allowed the Christ's force to flow into him. When the ego has progressed so far that it has filled itself with the Christ, then this Christ-force irradiates the astral body also. In that same astral body into which the Luciferic powers had formerly implanted their deeds the Christ power is now radiating from within outward. What happens in the future? Because we have overcome with the help of Christ, and only with His help, all those human qualities which come from Lucifer, we also, as men, gradually release the Luciferic powers; and a time will come when the Luciferic powers — who during the Moon development had to sink downward into a certain lower evolution for the sake of human freedom, and who had not themselves the opportunity of experiencing the Christ-force upon Earth — these Luciferic powers will experience the Christ-force through man, and through him they will be released. Man will save Lucifer, when he takes the Christ-force into himself in the necessary way. And because of this, man will again grow stronger than he otherwise would have been. For imagine: If man had not received the Luciferic powers, and then the Christ-force irradiating him, would not have encountered the hindrances of the Luciferic forces, and it would have been impossible for man to progress so far in wisdom, goodness, and in truth as he may do when he has to overcome these opposing forces.
Thus in man we have a member of the hierarchies who, as we see, is very distinct from the other members. We see that man's position is different from that of the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, the Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form, and different too from the Spirits of Personality, from the Fire Spirits the Archangels, and from some of the Angels. He can say to himself, looking into the future: ‘I am called on to search in my own inmost depths for that which gives me the impulse for my actions — I do not receive it from gazing on the Godhead like the Seraphim, but from the innermost depth of my own being.’
The Christ is a God whose action is such that one is not absolutely forced to follow His Impulse; one follows it only when one understands it, and in freedom. He is, therefore, the God who never seeks to hinder the free development of the ego in this or that direction. The Christ says in the very highest sense: ‘You will know the Truth and the Truth will make you free.’
And those beings of the next hierarchy who had the possibility of doing evil, the Luciferic beings, these will again be released, liberated, by the power of man.
We therefore see, my dear friends, how in fact world development does not simply repeat itself, but that new things enter. For a human stage such as is lived by men at present was never met with before, not with the Angels, nor the Archangels, nor the Spirit of Personality. Man had a completely new mission to fulfill in the world, the mission we have just characterized. For the sake of this mission he has descended into the world of the Earth. And the Christ came into the world as a free helper for him, not as a God acting from above, but as a first-born among many.
Thus at last we understand all the dignity and all the importance of Man as a member of our hierarchies, and when we glance upward to all the nobility and the glory of the higher hierarchies we say to ourselves: Be they ever so great, so wise, so good that they never err from the right path, yet the great mission of man is to bring freedom into the world, and with freedom firstly that which one calls love in the true sense of the word. For love without freedom is impossible. A being who blindly follows an impulse, just follows it; but for a being who can also act otherwise, there exists but one force which he could follow, and that is love. Freedom and love are two poles which belong to each other. If love is to enter into our cosmos, it can happen only through freedom — that means, only through Lucifer and those who conquer him — and at the same time through the Savior of men, through the Christ. Therefore the Earth is the Cosmos of Freedom and Love — and therefore the essential thing is that we, without tempting man away from humility, must learn to reckon the hierarchies as they ever have been reckoned in Western esotericism. Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones: these follow the direct impulse of the Godhead, having the sight of God. The Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form (Dominions, Mights, and Powers): these are as yet so bound to the higher powers that they have to be given ‘adverse commands’ in order that evolution should have the possibility of proceeding further. The Archangels and the Spirits of Personality also cannot fail — cannot, through their own free will, sink into evil. Therefore, the spirits of the hierarchies next above man were called Messengers and Arch-Messengers, to show that they did not fulfill their own tasks but the tasks of those who stand immediately above them. But in men a hierarchy is maturing which will fulfill its own tasks.
Through the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan developments man will be always maturing toward accomplishment from out his own impulses. Even if today he is not yet so far advanced, he will attain to it in time.
Which are the hierarchies? We begin: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; the Spirits of Wisdom, who exercise their dominion only so far as they act in the direction of the impulses they receive from the gods; then the Mights or Spirits of Motion, who have their power only because they receive it from above; it is the same with the Spirits of Form. Were they to become evil, they could become so only according to the decision of Divinity. We come then to the Spirits of Personality, to the Arch-Messengers, and Messengers, and have now descended almost as far as to men. And what can be said of Man if we place him in the ranks of the hierarchies? After the Archangels and Angels, the Arch-Messengers and Messengers, we will have to rank the Spirits of Freedom or the Spirits of Love — for this, beginning from above, is the tenth of the hierarchies, which although in process of development, yet belongs to the hierarchies.
In the universe we have not to do with repetitions: each time that a cycle is passed, something new is added to the world's evolution. And to introduce the new element is always the mission of that Hierarchy which is at its human stage of development.
In these lectures we have endeavored to prove the significance of Man through the significance of our Cosmos; we have, to a certain degree at least, questioned ourselves today as to the spiritual significance of man, and we have endeavored to explain man — this point in the center of the universe — in accordance with the teaching of the Mysteries, by explaining him, the point, from the circumference!
In doing this our knowledge gains reality; for it is most essential that all true spiritual knowledge should be a concrete true knowledge. This means that the knowledge gained through spiritual science should itself give a direct presentation of the cosmos and of the spiritual hierarchies.
We stand at the central point of the world. Everything around us loses significance for us, because we have to say: The external world of sense cannot solve the riddle for us. It is as if everything were to draw together to a center, and when this is done — then from the circumference, the solution of this world problem comes back to us in actual reality, just as is the case with matter itself, which is a reflection and symbol of the spiritual. It draws together in the center, disappears there, and then emerges again out of the circumference. This is a reality. And our knowledge is real when it thus stands before our eyes like the construction and the process of the whole cosmos. Then it is no speculation, no fancy: it is born out of the cosmos itself. This is the feeling we should develop. Wisdom must become an ideal for us, born out of the periphery of the cosmos and capable of filling us with great strength, with the strength that enables us to fulfill our own destiny and to achieve our own cosmic ideal. With this strength, we shall also be able to realize the human ideal that awaits us in the future.