The Spiritual Hierarchies and the Physical World. Lecture 9 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Düsseldorf, April 18, 1909:
It is only natural that after such an exposition as that of yesterday, numerous questions should arise, and that with regard to representation of such universal all-embracing truths about the cosmos, heard for the first time, some things should remain incomprehensible. I beg you always to remember that I have already said that here things explained are not the result of any speculation, or of any sort of artificial scheme, but are derived from real facts, which are called the facts of the Akashic Record; and it is only later that these facts can be gathered together into a sort of system. But one question which may arise in many minds must be answered today: the question as to the planets which have accomplished their task. In a certain way we traced yesterday the origin of the life of a planet up to its end, up to the time when it became a separate, visible planet. Now someone might affirm that some of these planets we see in the heavens did not originate from the time described yesterday, or are not now coming into being. We must clearly realize that a new epoch begins for a planet when it has reached that point which we described yesterday. Let us suppose we wished to follow the origin of a planet, not as it was with ancient Saturn when it alone was there, but as it was when the formation of our Earth took place. Ancient Saturn was then formed again, as a repetition; so that after the evolution of ancient Saturn, when ancient Sun and ancient Moon were all three finished, the evolution of the Earth first began in the form of a huge warmth or fire-body, on which was repeated all that had happened during the ancient Saturn evolution. Then came a time when, under the influence of the Zodiacal region called the Lion, the single planet Saturn (that which we call Saturn today) detached itself from that mighty self-revolving globe of fire, thus reaching its highest point. It was in this manner that the single planet Saturn originated.
Now, you must not picture to yourselves that the pacifying influence of the Lion brought the forward motion of Saturn to an end when that point of time was reached. No, only the inner movements which existed formerly were then stopped. Saturn had grown into a being which drew into it all that was formerly distributed in the circumference, and united it all within itself. All this happened though the influence of the Lion; but the large globe, from which this Saturn was detached, contracted and became a smaller globe. While this whole globe contracted inwardly and after the influence (from the Lion) had been able to work and the inward motions been brought to rest, Saturn retained to a certain degree the movement which it had originally received. Formerly Saturn used its own impulse for its movements, for it was necessary for it to continue the movement, to move on further as by a swimming motion. When that globe had withdrawn, it continued to move by itself, although the inward motion was stopped. And that self-movement, after it had received the first impulse, is the movement according to which Saturn is revolving today.
It happened in a similar way with Jupiter. For what had just been described happened when the Earth began its formation. Then differentiation in the globe took place when it began to contract inwardly. Then also occurred the killing of the single globes under the constellation of the Scorpion. They crowded on top of one another. Through this began for each their own inner life. After Jupiter, as a mighty living being, had been, so to speak, killed, there began within him the life of the single being belonging to him, and the whole globe, having contracted, now moved on, after having found by this means the impulse for movement within itself.
That which we have been considering today as the movements of Saturn, of Jupiter, etc. was a result, a consequence, which arose after the formative process — which I described yesterday — had come to an end.
Another difficulty seems to have arisen because I said that the second planet which detached itself from our Earth in the course of its evolution was Jupiter, the third Mars, whereas the sequence in time which I described was that the Saturn development came first, then the Sun development, and then the Moon's. But, this is completely justified; for with the planets of the present day we have to do with what took place as a repetition, during the fourth evolution of the Earth. When the first Saturn was formed, Saturn was there alone; during the Sun development (the second globe) the conditions were such that we have to speak of a Sun. But when after the Saturn development the Sun developments continued, the whole process of Saturn came to an end with the Sun, so that when we look backward at those first planetary developments of our Earth — the ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon — we must realize that they were finished with once and for all. But when we speak of the Earth's development it is not so. Saturn first arises, then, by way of repetition — the Sun; but everything progresses further inwardly, it is not yet finished. Jupiter is left behind as a relic of the repetition of the Sun development. Then the Earth is a repetition of the Moon development, which — if we regard the whole of evolution — was then at an end. But as regards earthly evolution the Moon is not finished. Mars remains behind after this repetition.
Thus we see that the planets of the present day which are visible to us in the heavens must be thought of as having originated during the time which we call the fourth period of the evolution of the Earth. These are the things over which we must ponder. It is impossible to touch on everything, when one speaks of the whole world.
In speaking of Saturn, I spoke of a globe of fire or of a large fiery egg, and then of a revolving motion. And it was in fact originally a sort of ball or egg. While that globe, which corresponds to the very first Saturn condition, is revolving, the following is gradually formed: it acquires a sort of girdle, which does not surround the whole egg, but which is there as a sort of broad band. And within that belt these single forms collect which are being formed all around.
This belt formation is a general cosmic law. This law — which rests on an accumulation in the form of an equator or belt — you can see exemplified in the cosmos, as far as your sight can reach, in the Milky Way, which owes its existence to that law. When you look at the Milky Way, stretching like an external belt around the heavens, with the stars shining sparsely in between, you must think of its being the result of that law which causes things to draw together into a belt as soon as a rotatory process begins. Our world system, as we have it, has really the form of a bean; it is not round, as is usually accepted, and the belt is drawn around as a distant equator.
You must also think of such a belt when a planet originates.
If — trivially speaking — one took an egg, desiring to make a diagram on it of these various conditions, one would have first to paint such a belt around it, with red if you like. One would not paint the whole egg red, but only just a belt. Along this belt those bodies assemble which were selected to form later a heavenly body. One would have to draw on it a point where all these were gathered together.
Thus you see that the configuration and the distribution of the stars as we see them in space is a result of the action of the spiritual beings or hierarchies. For when we speak of the contraction of large masses, we must realize that this does not happen of itself, but that it is brought about by the action of those beings of the higher hierarchies which we have described. And when we take a general view of all that has been described, we may say: When ancient Saturn was in formation, when all that mighty mass of fire out of which all our solar system has arisen organized itself into ancient Saturn, the Spirits of Personality were passing through their human stage of existence; during the Sun formation the Archangels or Spirits of Fire were passing through their human stage; during the Moon evolution, the Angels; and on the Earth, Man is passing through his human existence. But it must be realized that this Man had also taken part in all that happened before. What is called the physical body today had its first foundations during the very earliest Saturn formation. That physical body was not as yet interpenetrated by an etheric body or an astral body; but it was already so organized that after passing through all the transformations it experienced later, it could become the bearer of the spiritual Earth-man of today. Very slowly and gradually was this physical body organized during the ancient Saturn evolution, and while ancient Saturn itself was being formed the different signs of the Zodiac slowly revolved, and the human body, member by member, took on its earliest form. When Saturn stood under the sign of the Lion the beginning of the heart was formed; the ribs or the thoracic cage were started while Saturn was under the sign of the Crab; the foundation of the symmetrical shape of man — that is, the reason for his being symmetrically built on two sides — arose while Saturn was under the constellation of Gemini. Thus we follow piece by piece the formation of the human body, and when we look up to that part of the Zodiac where Aries the Ram is we can say: The upper part of our head originated when ancient Saturn stood under the sign of Aries; the foundation of our organ of speech, when Saturn stood under the sign of the Bull. And when you think of man distributed thus, you can see in the Zodiacal circle the creative forces for each of the human organs.
This was represented pictorially in the old Mysteries, and the Zodiac was drawn as you see it here on the ceiling of this hall. By chance — but there is no such thing as chance — we have met in a hall which is adorned above by the signs of the Zodiac. Formerly the Zodiac was not designed by depicting the animal form corresponding to each sign, but the different human members were drawn in the corresponding region of the heavens: for instance, for Aries a head; further on, for the Bull, the region of the throat; that which most of all expresses symmetry — the arms — for Gemini; the thoracic cage, for the Crab; the heart, for the Lion; and thus they came to the lower parts of the legs, for the Waterman; and to the feet, for Pisces. Think of such a Zodiacal circle as a man designed out there in the cosmos, then you have that which corresponds to the powers of the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim, who created the first beginnings of the physical human body. This is the great Cosmic Man, the Man who is found in all the world myths and all the national legends or sagas, out of whom single individuals of the Earth are composed in the most varied forms. Think of the giant YMIR who is spread out in the great cosmos; microcosmic man is formed out of this giant. Up above is the macrocosmic man who is a creator, who, out there, comprises all that man has within him. Profound truth lies in the depths of such representations, truth which comes to light more or less imperfectly, according to the degrees of the clairvoyant power of the nations. It also shines through that wisdom which finds its outward expression in the old Testament. It shines in that wisdom which, as the old Hebrew Mystery-teaching, leads back to that Mystery-teaching which was the foundation of the Old Testament: to Adam Cadmon of the Kabbala. The macrocosmic Man is none other than the one we have now designed in the cosmos; only we must form our conceptions of him in the right way.
What I have now explained to you, and which culminated in the teaching of the macrocosmic man, is a teaching which in fact includes the deepest cosmic mysteries, and which in the future will gradually flow into the general education of humanity at large.
Today we are still far from understanding this teaching; and if anyone who is merely a scientist had listened to these lectures he would have surely held this audience for something other than an intelligent company of people. We are very far from understanding these things today. But we are now at the beginning of an epoch when the facts which are discovered in accordance with the fantastic theories of modern science will compel men to seek these truths of the great primeval wisdom. The mystery, for instance, of the process of conception, about which people speculate so erroneously today, will never be known until the teaching of the macrocosmic man regarding that same process is understood. Precisely that into which true mystery enters, and as a real mystery eludes the instruments of modern research, will receive illumination to the minutest detail. For how small, in relation to the cosmos, is the cell wherein fructification takes place! The mysteries of the great cosmos will alone solve that which takes place in the smallest cells; nothing else can solve the problems they contain. The investigations of external science in relation to this problem are not without use, they have a certain merit, but they are childish in comparison with the great mystery which is contained there, and which will only be solved when people realize that the answer to the happenings in a center is to be found in the great circumference. Hence, all teachers of the Mysteries said: If you want to understand the center, investigate the circumference, for it contains the key.
When you remember that each world globe retains its movement after it has, so to speak, come to a conclusion, when it is complete, you will also understand what must be called the karma of each of these globes.
From the moment when each of these planets has come of itself to an end, the beings which belong to it have to take part in its dissolution, in its disappearance from all connection with the world. Thus if we follow up the ancient Saturn evolution, we have an advancing process up to the fusion of the whole globe of warmth — or you might consider it a descending one, for it is a process of condensation. In the moment when Saturn begins to revolve — we are speaking of the first Saturn development — the Saturn globe is completed, all the conditions are accomplished with which it is concerned. The spirits who are assigned to it have to consider, at this moment of its dissolution, what has been built up during its formation, and that is karma. This cannot be escaped; things have to be dissolved again in the same way in which they were put together. The karma of the first half of evolution fulfills itself in the second half. The formation of worlds is the preparation of karma; the passing away of worlds, in the broadest sense of the word, is nothing else than pain under the action of karma, and again the wiping out of that same karma. As in big things, so it is also in small things, with every planet. For each planet mirrors faithfully the conditions of the great world. You can see the same process in a nation. Think of a nation rising in its youth, full of strength, of activity, of energy; think of this nation as producing in epoch after epoch the most varied elements of civilization and of culture. This has all to reach its highest point — but while all this is accumulating, the karma of the nation is also accumulating. Just as karma accrued during the Saturn development, and we have to take into consideration what had been brought about, so karma accrues to a nation during the time its civilization is being built up. This karma is at its highest point, at its strongest, when the nation has given birth to all the primeval, elemental forces.
Now, we have seen that guiding beings are everywhere. We have seen with the Earth how the higher spiritual beings — Angels, Archangels, Archai — descended, and at a time when humanity could not as yet help itself, they guided it until it reached a certain height. These are the spiritual beings of the hierarchies who had reached their maturity in earlier times; but when this height is reached, when those beings who had descended from the heights reach their goal, then other beings have to become the leaders and guides of the said nations. When nations have to rise in a certain way still higher than their highest point, leading personalities have to give themselves up of their own free will to become the bearers of higher spiritual beings; only then does it become possible to lead the nation a few stages beyond that which was originally planned for it. But in such cases one thing must happen: those who descend into the beings who have to lead the nation to a still higher point of civilization must take upon themselves all the karma which the nation has been accumulating. This is the important law as regards taking upon oneself the karma of nations and of races. From a definite point of time the guiding personalities have themselves to bear all the karma of those nations and races. That was the essential reason that such individualities as Hermes, for instance, had to take upon them their nation's karma which had accumulated up to then. On each planet, such things are the reflected images of great cosmic processes.
But we have reflected images which go further still. We have seen that the Thrones became Thrones only because from created beings they themselves became creators, that they were enabled to pass from a condition of taking to one of giving. The Thrones had once upon a time passed through their development in other world systems, and had progressed so far that they were able to let their own substance stream out from them.
It is a higher grade of development to be able to give, to bring sacrifices, than merely to store up for oneself all that the cosmos gives. This is again mirrored in human life. What is this human development? Look backward in spirit to the Atlantean and Lemurian times, and then look forward! Man receives the physical body, the etheric and astral bodies and the ego; and then again the ego works back on the other members, transforming the astral body, the etheric and physical bodies, into Manas, Buddhi, and Atman, into Spirit Self, Spirit-Life, and Spirit-Man. Primeval wisdom has always taught that man transforms his astral body in such a way that this astral body consists at first partly of Manas and partly of the old astrality, but that later it becomes completely transformed, completely penetrated by the work and action of the ego. Let us take a man who has not yet reached that grade of development when the astral body is completely penetrated by the work of the ego; almost all men, with very few exceptions, are in that condition. That which man has already transformed goes with him through all eternity; that which he has not yet changed, in which his ego has had no part, must leave him, as a sort of astral shell, after he has passed through Kama-Loka; that shell dissolves in the astral world, not without its having brought about considerable mischief if as an astral body it had bad desires and evil passions. Thus we can say that the development of man consists in his leaving always less and less behind him in the astral world. Let us follow the process: the man dies; soon after death the etheric body is dissolved; and the extract of it remains; the man passes through Kama-Loka, and the untransformed shell detaches itself; that which has been reworked goes with man through all eternity, it is brought back into each new incarnation. The more perfect the man is the less there will be of those remnants left in the astral world; till at last he will have progressed so far that he leaves nothing of his astral body in Kama-Loka — so far that he can injure no living being on Earth through the remnants he leaves in Kama-Loka. Such a man has then the possibility of seeing into spiritual worlds. For it is not possible to reach this condition without having reached a certain degree of clairvoyance in the Astral. The whole astral body has then been spiritualized, it has become Spirit-Self, and the whole of it is taken with him by the man to the spiritual world. Formerly that which was bad was left behind; now the whole astral body can be taken with him into all futurity. And in the moment when the astral body is so far advanced that it is completely transformed, in that moment the whole of this new astral shape is impressed upon the etheric body, so that the etheric body becomes a counterpart of the astral body. The etheric body does not need to be as yet quite transformed, but that is impressed upon it which has been refashioned in the astral body. You see that we have here described a particularly exalted being, one who is eminently far advanced, because he has developed the whole of the Spirit-Self. This being is called Nirmana-Kaya in Eastern science; for his astral body, his astral Kaya, has reached the stage when it leaves no remnants in the astral world.
Let us now go further. Man can always develop further and further; at last he influences or transforms his etheric body, then his physical body. What happens when the etheric and the physical body are transformed so that they are ruled by the man? When the etheric body is thus changed, when man has not only ‘Spirit-Self’ in the astral body, but Buddhi or ‘Life-Spirit’ has also been gradually developed in his etheric body, and when this Life-Spirit or Buddhi impresses itself upon the physical body — then yet a further stage of development is reached.
Man then reaches the point when his etheric body also leaves nothing behind it, so that he retains this etheric body in the same shape through all time, the etheric body in which he has formed the Life-Spirit or Buddhi.
Through such transmutations man becomes more and more ruler over his astral and his etheric bodies. Such control enables him also to direct in a certain way his astral and etheric bodies. One who has not yet brought his astral body under the rule of his ego must certainly wait until he has come thus far; but the man who already is lord of his astral and etheric bodies has them at his free disposal. He can say: ‘Because with my “I” I have passed through so many incarnations which have taught me to transform my astral and etheric bodies, I am now enabled, when I have to return to Earth again, to form for myself out of astral and etheric substances an astral and an etheric body which will be equally perfect.’ He is also enabled to sacrifice his own astral and etheric bodies, to pass them on to others. You now see that there are individualities who, because they have become rulers of their astral and etheric bodies, are able to sacrifice these bodies, because they have learnt how to build them. If they wish to return to Earth again, they will themselves form them anew out of the existing material. The perfection to which they have attained they pass on to other personalities who have to perform certain tasks in the world. Thus personalities of later days have woven into them, organized into them, the astral and etheric bodies of these who lived in times of yore. You see that when this happens the personality of olden times did not only influence the time in which he lived, but that his influence works on also into the future.
Thus for instance Zarathustra, who was capable of governing his astral body, and who later passed it over to Hermes, could say to himself: ‘I live, but in the future I will not only work as I do now, as a person in the outer world, but, I will penetrate the astral body of the Egyptian Hermes, he in whom the Egyptian epoch of civilization has its beginning.’ Such a personality has a body, a Kaya, which does not only operate in the place and time when it lives but which acts into the future and gives law unto the future. Law for the future is called Dharma. Such a body is called Dharma-Kaya. These are names, expressions, which one often meets with in Eastern science. You have here the true explanation as it is always given in primeval wisdom.
Now, if we look back at the many things which have passed before our minds during these days, our souls might well put the question: What is that which up to now we have really called man? Man is a name given to a certain stage of development. We have found that the Spirits of Personality were men on Saturn; that even the Thrones must have been men once upon a time; we have learnt that man progresses further, and rises to higher beings; we have learnt to know the first stages of the ascent in the Angels, Archangels, etc.; we have learnt to know in them beings who are sacrificing something; we have seen the beginning of the sacrifice which is found at its highest point in the Thrones. The first gleam of creative activity we have seen in those who are the leaders of nations and races, who know how to influence their own bodies in such a way that they can let some of their influence stream out. As the Thrones let their essence flow out, so in another way the Nirmana-Kayas let their own bodies flow out into the future, for the sake of future individualities, who could not have reached such a far point in their evolution if they had not received, embodied into them, what the former beings gave out for them.
Thus we build up our idea of evolution from the point when it begins up to the time when one can give out, can create. The idea of the creator rises before our spiritual sight, and we say to ourselves: Each separate being develops from the creature to the creator. The Archangels developed to the human stage on ancient Sun, the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn, the Angels on ancient Moon, we men, upon the Earth; and so it will continue always, in all times, Beings will be developing into men. Does all that continue endlessly? Is it really only a succession of circles, in which is repeated on the Sun that which previously took place on Saturn, only that a number of beings are added to the former ones with each circle? Is it really all, that out of originally helpless creatures beings should ever be developing into those who can sacrifice themselves? This is not at all the case! But the great question arises: Is the humanity which was experienced on Saturn by the Spirits of Personality, the humanity experienced on the Sun by the Archangels, and that experienced by the Angels on Mars, are these all the same kind of humanity as that which we are now experiencing upon Earth? When we consider the nature of the Angels, for instance, do we see in them the image of what we shall be in our next Jupiter epoch? Do we see in the Spirits of Fire only the image of those beings we shall ourselves be in Venus? Can it really be said with reason that, in reaching to higher stages in the evolution of the world, and rising even into the hierarchies, we shall develop only into beings which exist already? Has our path of evolution been trod already by others? These are the great questions which each of you may ask who has let these lectures act impartially upon his soul. Have we only to do with a humanity which is externally repeated in the same way, so that we are now as the Spirits of Personality were on the Saturn, the Fire Spirits or Archangels on the Sun, the Angels on the Moon? For us this might be important, but for the higher Gods it would only be a multiplication of their own creations, and they would not have achieved any special progress. But there is another question: Will men, just because they have become men upon the Earth, be enabled some day perhaps to develop into beings capable of something of which the Angels are incapable, something of which also the Archangels and the Spirits of Personality are incapable? Has the whole of Creation learnt something through having produced men after the Archangels, and after the Angels? Has Creation made progress through that? Is it possible that man, because he was fitted to descend deeper, will, therefore, have gained the possibility, the right, to rise still higher? We ask ourselves this as a sort of consequential question. The remainder of our considerations must be dedicated to this question: What is the whole significance and importance of man in the cosmos and his relation to the hierarchies? What will man become in the succeeding stages of the hierarchies?
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