The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature. Lecture 6.
Rudolf Steiner, Helsinki, Finland, April 8, 1912:
We have said that characteristic of the beings of the Third Hierarchy is the fact that what is perception in man is in them manifestation, and that what in man is inner life, in them is being filled with spirit. Even in those beings who start immediately above man in the cosmic order, the Angels or Angeloi, we already find this peculiarity, that they are actually conscious of that which they manifest from out of themselves. When they return to their inner being, they have nothing independent, nothing self-enclosed, like the inner life of man; but they then feel shining and springing forth in their inner being the forces and beings of the higher hierarchies above them. In short they feel themselves filled and inspired by the spirit and its beings, immediately above them. Thus what we men call our independent inner life really does not exist in them. If they wish to develop their own being, if they wish to feel, think, and will somewhat as a man does, all that is immediately manifested externally; not as in man, who can shut up within himself his thoughts and feelings, and allow the impulses of his will to remain unfulfilled. What lives as thought in these beings, in so far as they themselves bring forth these thoughts, is at the same time also externally revealed. If they do not wish to manifest externally they have no other means of returning into their inner being but by once again filling themselves with the world above them. Thus, in the inner life of these beings dwells the world above them, and when they live a life of their own, they project themselves externally, objectively.
Thus, as we have seen, these beings could hide nothing within them as the product of their own thought and feeling, for whatever they bring about in their inner being must show itself externally. As we mentioned in one of the former lectures, they cannot lie, they cannot be untrue to their nature so that their thoughts and feelings did not harmonize with the external world; they cannot have an idea within them which does not agree with the external world; for any ideas which they have in their inner being are perceived by them in their manifestation. But now let us just suppose that these beings had a desire to be untrue to their own nature — what would be the result? Well, in the beings we have designated as Angels, Archangels, and Spirits of the Age or Archai, we find throughout that everything which reveals itself to them, everything which they can perceive is, so to speak, their own being. If they were to wish to be untrue, they would be obliged to develop something in their inner being which would not be consistent with their own nature. Every untruth would be a denial of their nature. That would mean nothing less than a deadening, a damping-down of their own being. Now suppose that nevertheless these beings had the desire to experience something in their inner nature which they did not manifest externally; to do so they would have to take on another nature.
What I have just described as the denial of their own nature by beings of the Third Hierarchy, the taking on of another nature, did actually take place; it did occur in the course of the ages. We shall see, as these lectures go on, why this had to happen; but to begin with we will confine our attention to the fact that it did happen; that, as a matter of fact, among the beings of the Third Hierarchy there were some possessed with this desire to have experiences in their inner nature which they need not manifest externally. That is, they had the wish to deny their own nature. What did this bring about in these beings? Something entered which the other beings, those of the Third Hierarchy which retained their own nature, cannot have. The beings of the Third Hierarchy can have no inner independence such as man has. If they wish to live in their inner being, they must immediately be filled with the spirit-world above them. A certain number of the beings of the Third Hierarchy had the desire to develop something within their inner being which they would not immediately encounter in the external world as perception, or revelation of their own being. Hence the necessity arose of denying their own nature and taking on another nature. To develop an inner life of their own, to attain inner independence, a number of beings of the Third Hierarchy had to give up their own nature, to deny it. They had, so to speak, to bring about in themselves the power not to manifest certain inner experiences externally. Now let us ask: — What then were the reasons which moved these beings of the Third Hierarchy to develop such a desire within them? If we fix our attention upon the nature of the beings of the Third Hierarchy, with their manifestation and enfilling with spirit, we see that these beings are in reality wholly at the service of the beings of the higher hierarchies. Angels have no life of their own; their own life is manifestation, which is for the whole world; as soon as they do not manifest themselves there radiates into their inner being the life of the higher hierarchies. That which induced a number of them to deny their nature was a feeling of power, of independence and freedom. At a certain time a number of beings of the Third Hierarchy had an impulse, an urge, not merely to he dependent upon the beings of the higher hierarchies, but to develop within themselves an inner life of their own. The result of this was very far-reaching for the whole evolution of the planetary system to which we belong; for these beings, whom we may call the rebels of the Third Hierarchy, brought about nothing less than the actual independence of man — making it possible for him to develop an independent life of his own which does not immediately manifest externally but can be independent of external manifestation.
I am intentionally using many words to describe this circumstance, because it is extremely important to grasp accurately what is here in question, namely, that an impulse arose in a number of the Third Hierarchy to develop an inner life of their own. Everything else was simply the result, the consequence of this impulse. What then was this result? It was in fact a terrible one, namely, the betrayal of their own nature; untruth, falsehood. You see, it is important that you should understand that the spirits of the Third Hierarchy which had this impulse did not do what they did for the sake of lying, but in order to develop an independent life of their own; but in so doing they had to take the consequence, they had to become Spirits of Untruth — spirits which betrayed their own being — in other words, Spirits of Lies. It is as though someone were to take a journey on foot — and he meets with a wet day; he must of necessity make the best of it and put up with getting wet, which he did not at all intend: — in the same way the spirits of which we are speaking had no intention of doing something in order to sink into untruth. Their action arose from their wish to develop an inner life, an inner activity; but the result, the consequence, was that they at the same time became Spirits of Untruth. Now, all the spiritual beings which in this way, through betraying their own nature, arose as a second category beside the spirits of the Third Hierarchy are called in occultism Luciferic Spirits.
The concept of the Luciferic Spirits consists essentially in the fact that these beings wish to develop an inner life. Now the question is: What have these spirits to do to attain their goal? We have already seen what they had to develop as a result; and we shall now inquire further what they had to do in order to attain this goal of an inner independent life. What did these spirits wish to surmount? They wished to prevent themselves from being filled wholly with the substance of the higher hierarchies; they wished to be filled not only with the beings of the higher hierarchies but with their own being. They could only accomplish this in the following way: Instead of filling themselves with the spirit of the higher hierarchies, and, as it were, leaving themselves open to the free outlook toward the higher hierarchies, they cut themselves off, detached themselves from them, in order in this way to create substance of their own from the substance of the higher hierarchies. We can gain a correct idea of what is here in question if we think of the beings of the Third Hierarchy in the following way. We think of them represented symbolically, graphically, in such a way that they manifest their own being outwardly, as it were, as though it were their skin; so that each time they developed inner thought or feeling, a manifestation arises, like a shining-forth of their own being. The moment they do not manifest themselves, they take up the light of the higher hierarchies which flows into them; they fill themselves with the spirit of the higher hierarchies and, as it were, open their whole being to them.
I have now tried to indicate to you how certain beings of th Third Hierarchy have become quite different beings — Luciferic spirits. That which took place in these beings of the Third Hierarchy cannot, of course, take place in the same way in the beings of the other hierarchies, but something similar takes place even with these. If we apply that which takes place in the beings of the other hierarchies to a consideration of the Spirits of Form, it will give us an idea of how a planetary system is actually formed. At the conclusion of the last lecture it was said that what our vision first perceives in the planets proceeds from the Spirits of Form; but it is not quite accurate to represent it thus. If you consider the planets — Mars, Saturn, or Jupiter, for instance — which are outside in cosmic space; as you see them with your physical eyes, or with the telescope, you have in the form revealed to you not merely the Spirits of Form. Let us take, for example, the planet which for a long period of time has been reckoned as the outermost one in our system; Uranus and Neptune were added later, as we shall see; but to begin with we will consider Saturn as the outermost. If we look at Saturn with physical vision we find him outside in cosmic space, a sort of luminous globe (leaving his rings out of the question). To the occultist who follows the spiritual events in the cosmos, this globe which is seen out there is not what the occultist calls Saturn; to him Saturn is that which fills the whole space bounded by the apparently elliptical orbit of Saturn.
What I am here saying is not a mere theoretical idea or fancy; the fact actually is that matter, not coarse physical matter but fine etheric matter, fills the space within the orbit of Saturn in its lenticular, flattened, ball-like form, as drawn here. It is just as much a fact that the second smaller space for Jupiter is filled with a different etheric substance which permeates the first; so that there is simple etheric substance only between the two orbits; within, the two etheric substances permeate one another, mutually permeate one another.
Now let us ask: What is the task of the Spirits of Form in this whole disposition? That Spirit of Form which forms the basis of Saturn sets a boundary, gives form to this etheric substance which in an occult sense we call Saturn. Thus the outermost line in the formation of Saturn has been shaped by the Spirit of Saturn, which is also a Spirit of Form. In the same way the line of Jupiter was formed by the Spirit of Form allotted to Jupiter; the line of Mars by the Spirit of Mars, which is a Spirit of Form. Now we may ask: Where then actually dwells the Spirit of Form which corresponds to Saturn, or Jupiter, or Mars? If we can speak of a place in which these beings are, where is this place? In the ordinary sense of the word we cannot so do; we can only say: — The spiritual beings which we call the Spirits of Form work as forces within the etheric substance I have just mentioned; but they all have a common center, and this is none other than the Sun. Thus if we seek for the actual place whence the Spirits of Form work — the Spirits of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc., as also the Spirit of Form belonging to our Earth — if we seek for the center, the starting point from which the Spirits of Form work — we find it in the Sun. That means that the Spirits of Form corresponding to our planets comprise, as it were, a synod or council of Spirits, having its seat in the Sun, and from there sets boundaries to certain etheric substances, certain masses of ether, so that what we call occult Saturn, occult Jupiter, comes into being. Now let us ask: How would it be if the Spirits of Form alone were to work?
From the whole significance of these studies you will gather that those physical planets would not be in existence if only the Spirits of Form were to work. They would indeed have, as it were, their abode in the Sun, where they form a sort of college; and we should have around us the planetary spheres as far as the orbit of Saturn, for there would be, so to speak, concentric globes, flattened balls in existence as occult planets; the most external of these flattened globes being of the finest etheric matter, the next somewhat denser, and the innermost of the densest etheric matter. Thus the physical planets would not be in existence if these Spirits of Form alone were to work, but there would be globe-shaped, accumulated masses bounded by what the physical astronomy of today calls the orbits of the planets. But within the cosmos there are certain spiritual beings corresponding to the Spirits of Form but who, as it were, are rebels against those of their own class. Just as we find Luciferic spirits among the beings of the Third Hierarchy, which in order to set up their own independent life cut themselves off from the spiritual substance of the higher hierarchies, so do we also find within the category of the Spirits of Form that some separated and would not go through the usual development of a Spirit of Form, but went through an evolution of their own. These oppose the normal Spirits of Form, are in opposition to them. What then happens is as follows.
For in truth here we have actually to do with a turning in, and to be really accurate the matter must in the first place be described as: The Spirits of Form working from the Sun extended the etheric substance to a certain distance; there worked the abnormal Spirits of Form in opposition, and caved the substance in, so that in reality a hollow was made in the etheric substance. As regards the original etheric substance of the planet, where the physical eye believes it sees the planet — there is really nothing; the actual planet is where the physical eye sees nothing. That is the peculiarity of maya. Where the physical planet is seen, there is a hollow. It may perhaps be said: “It is a very strange idea that where the physical planet is to be seen, there is a hollow,” for you will ask about our Earth. In the sense of what has been expounded, our Earth must also be a sort of flattened ball having its central point in the Sun, and it must also be such a notch, such a sort of hollow on the outermost rim. “A fine thing, that!” you can say. “We know quite well that we are walking on firm, solid earth." In like manner we might take for granted that where Saturn, Jupiter, or Mars are, there would naturally have to be solid filling, not hollow. And nevertheless where you walk about on our Earth — where, in the sense of maya-perception you believe yourselves to be walking on solid, firm ground — even then, in reality, you are walking about on a hollow. Our Earth itself, in so far as it is an accumulation of matter, is a hollow in cosmic space, something bored into cosmic space. All physical matter comes into being through the meeting together of forces coming from the Spirits of Form. In this case we have the meeting of the forces of the normal Spirits of Form and those of the abnormal Spirits of Form. They collide with one another and in reality an indentation is produced and consequently at this point a simultaneous breaking up of the form, but only of the form. The form breaks up and this hollow space is bored. Now, broken spiritual form, crushed form, is in reality matter. In a physical sense matter only exists when spiritual forms are broken up. Thus the planets out there are also broken-up forms.
In our planetary system the Spirits of Form have helpers, as has been made evident by our previous considerations. They themselves determine the boundaries, as we have described: — but above the Spirits of Form stand the Spirits of Motion, above these the Spirits of Wisdom, above these the Spirits of Will, above them the Cherubim, the Seraphim. In all ranks of these spiritual beings there are those who can be likened to what we have described as Luciferic spirits. So that wherever a planet is formed, on its outermost border not merely do the Spirits of Form cooperate, but that which goes out from the Sun, from the activities of the normal hierarchies, working from within outward, is always being opposed by the forces coming from the abnormal, the rebellious, hierarchies.
The Cherubim and Seraphim are those hierarchies which just as much take part in the whole working of the forces as do the Spirits of Form. They have the task of bearing the power of light outward from the center-point of the planetary system, from the center of the Sun. Inasmuch as the beings of the higher hierarchies, the Seraphim and Cherubim, become the bearers of light, they have now the same relation to the light as the forces of the Spirits of Form to the etheric substance. Just as the forces of the normal Spirits of Form pass outward and encounter the forces of the abnormal spirits working in opposition, and by that means a notch is hollowed out, so also do the forces work which carry the light, filling the whole etheric space; but in opposition to them work the abnormal forces (See Figure, point a), so that the planet arrests the light. Just as it arrests the forces of the Spirits of Form, so does it arrest the light, and throw it back; hence it appears as a reflector, as a thrower-back of the light which the spirits we call the Cherubim and Seraphim carry to it from the Sun.
Thus to occult vision what we observe in the stellar world is absolutely different from what it appears to physical astronomy. What exists for the latter is nothing but a description of a maya, and only behind this maya does the truth lie; for the truth behind the material world is the spiritual world. In reality the material world does not exist at all. What is called the material world is the interplay of the forces of the spiritual world.
We have tried to describe today how such a planetary system really arises. Very little is really known in the external world, in the world of physical science, of the origin of such a system; for though physical science imagines that a planetary system arises from a sort of massing of etheric substance, the first fundamental principle is omitted which should hold good in all natural science. How often are children told at school — at least I do not know whether it is done here, but in Central Europe they are always told — that according to the Kant-Laplace system of the origin of the world a mass of original matter was in rotation, from which then the separate planets split off. (There may be some little improvement in that today, but the principle is the same.) And in order that this may be quite clear and comprehensible, the children are shown by means of a little experiment how easily a planetary system can be formed. A large drop of some oily substance which floats on water is taken, and a circle ingeniously made in the line of the equator which is pierced through with a card; then a needle is passed through from pole to pole, then one begins to turn, and behold, out of the drop of oil arises a pretty little planetary system. Quite in the sense of the Kant-Laplace theory of the origin of the world, little drops separate off and rotate, while in the center remains the big drop, the Sun. What is more natural than to represent this to young people as a visible proof that this was also once enacted in the great cosmic spaces. But in so doing an important error is made, one which ought never to be made in natural science. There are certain conditions that ought never to be forgotten in making experiments. A scientist who forgets conditions without which no experiment can come about does not describe it accurately even according to natural science. If you omit any essential condition you are not describing it correctly according to natural science. The essential condition in the origin of this planetary system is that the teacher should stand there and make it revolve, otherwise the whole system could not originate! The Kant-Laplace theory would thus only be possible if those who believe in it could at the same time supply a gigantic teacher in cosmic space, who would revolve the whole etheric mass. People notice even small errors in logic — perhaps not always, but often — but capital errors, such errors as those which in their effects extend to the whole cosmic-conception, are not remarked.
Now, there is no great teacher outside, making the axis of the world revolve, but there are the individual beings of the various hierarchies, who through the interplay of their forces bring about the distribution and regulation of the movements of the different heavenly bodies. This should be the answer to those who would believe that the ordinary materialistic theory as expressed in Kant-Laplace, or in later hypotheses, is sufficient to explain the cosmic system, and that it is not necessary to consider anything else, as do the occultists. To those people who from a materialistic standpoint object to this living interplay of the hierarchies, we must again reply: with the capital error in logic which must be made by all cosmic materialistic hypotheses we cannot reach our goal; for there is no possibility of explaining a planetary system without calling to one's aid what occult vision can actually see. It is certainly abundantly proved to occult vision that what must be described with the physical senses is indeed, considered in its reality, something quite different. Thus what the eye sees is really nothing but the reflected light, which is thrown back because when the Seraphim and Cherubim carry the light of the Sun into cosmic space, the Luciferic Cherubim and Seraphim throw themselves against them, so to speak, and insert darkness into the substance of the sunlight; cutting off the light within, and claiming for each of the planets a light of its own.
These thoughts, now given out on the basis of occult observation and occult investigation, were first expounded in the post-Atlantean period in a sublime way by the great Zarathustra to his pupils. Everything which is rayed down from the Sun into cosmic space in the way just described, by the beings of the higher hierarchies centered in the Sun, was ascribed by Zarathustra to the Spirit whom he named Ahura Mazdao, or Ormuzd. That spirit who carried the forces of his being from the center-point of the Sun into the periphery was everywhere opposed by the abnormal spirits of the different hierarchies, which in their totality form the kingdom of Ahriman. We shall, however, see that we must separate the kingdom of Ahriman from that of Lucifer with regard to the planetary system. We shall have more to say about this; but at the conclusion of this lecture, attention must be drawn to the fact that Zarathustra in his own way symbolically pointed out to his pupils this connection of the Light of Ahura Mazdao, or Ormuzd, streaming out from the Sun, and of the kingdom of Ahriman embedded within it. Zarathustra said: What proceeds from the Sun we represent symbolically through that which the Seraphim and Cherubim carry, i.e. through the light. That which is hurled against the light in opposition by all the abnormal spirits of the higher hierarchies, the notch thus hollowed out, we represent by what is accepted as darkness. (That is, an individual light imprisoned within, manifesting externally as darkness.) That, Zarathustra represented as a kingdom of Angramanyu, or Ahriman. Thus we see how this teaching, which having originated in Asia Minor is in a sense once more given to us today, was met first in the Zarathustra civilization. What always fills us with such significant feelings with regard to the evolution of humanity is that we ourselves come upon certain things which even if they were not traditional and not to be observed in the Akasha Chronicle are furnished by the results of present-day occult investigations; and which we can rediscover in the great teachings of antiquity. And only when we permeate ourselves with the truth which at the present time can be found in occult investigation, and when this same truth shines toward us from the old teachers and leaders of humanity, do we acquire a right relation to these leaders of humanity. Then only do they become living to us, then only do we understand them aright. Then, too, does the evolution of humanity reveal itself to us as a mighty discourse held by the spirits, now not only resounding forth to one another in space, but interpreting one another in the successive periods of time, completing one another, and leading the stream of civilization on into the future.