Rudolf Steiner, Helsinki, Finland, April 13, 1912:
The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature. Lecture 10 of 11.
The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature. Lecture 10 of 11.
In our last lecture we pointed to the relation between the spiritual forces which work in the beings of the kingdoms of nature on Earth and what we see externally. Today let us shortly recapitulate how that has been worked out, for it is necessary to examine more closely the things which form an essential part of our theme, as they will lead us to what is to be the culminating point of our lectures: a comprehension of the living cooperation of the beings of the various hierarchies and their offspring, in the heavenly bodies and in the kingdoms of nature. We stated that man has the four principles of his being active on the physical plane: his physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. Further on we drew attention to the fact that in the animal, three principles are active on the physical plane —the physical, etheric, and astral bodies — while on the other hand, the group-ego is on the astral plane. Further we saw that with regard to the plants, their physical and etheric bodies alone are active on the physical plane, their astral bodies on the astral plane, and the group-ego on the Devachanic plane. With regard to the mineral, we only found its physical body on the physical plane, its etheric body on the astral plane, its astral body on the Devachanic plane, while in the region we designate as the higher Devachanic plane dwell the group-egos of the minerals.
We will now pass on to show more in detail what all this really means. Till now I have only been able to say that the occult vision which raises itself to the first of the supersensible worlds lying above us does not find in the physical world with regard to the animal what he finds there with regard to man — namely, the ego; for that which in man we call the ego, the I, can only be found for the animal on the astral plane, in the supersensible world; there only it has the center of its activity. Occult science cannot ascribe an ego to the animal in the physical world. It does not deny an ego to the animal, but states that what can be designated as the ego of an animal is only to be found in the astral world. Objection may easily be raised to the fact that an ego is denied to the animals, even to the higher animals, on the physical plane, whereas it might be said, and indeed often is said, that with regard to their actions animals display an extraordinary intelligence, a quite wonderful comprehension, so that much that the animals does on the physical plane can be likened to what man does. Now, those who express themselves thus have not grasped the fundamental principle of this matter. It would not occur to anyone who penetrates into these matters to deny what we call human soul-forces to animals on the physical plane.
There is no question of that. In this sphere lies the foundation of manifold mistakes and misunderstandings. Thus, misunderstanding would at once arise if a certain materialistic Darwinism were to say in our time: “Indeed you Anthroposophists look at the matter as though man were definitely to be sought on a higher stage of spirituality than the animal; whereas we see that the animal develops intelligence, so much intelligence, so much even of a certain instinctive morality exists in the animal kingdom, that what man has in his soul-forces may well be but a sort of higher stage of what we meet with in the animal kingdom.” The point of view here involved is quite erroneous. No unprejudiced study would deny intelligence, even reason, to the animal kingdom. We need only consider such facts as that man arrived at the discovery of paper comparatively late in his evolution . The discovery of paper by human intelligence is represented in our historical descriptions as a very great acquisition; and in a certain respect it certainly is a sign of human progress. Yet the wasps knew this art millions of years ago; for the material of which the wasps build their nests is really paper. We can therefore say: “That which the human intellect as such accomplishes, that the animal kingdom already possesses far, far down in its ranks.” It would not occur to an unprejudiced observer to deny human soul-forces, as such, to the animal; indeed in the realm of occultism we are even convinced that sagacity and intelligence in the animals is much surer, more precise, and much more free from error than in man. The essential point is that in man all those soul-forces relate to an ego in the physical world, an ego which is developing itself individually in a physical world, going through an individual development and education. Now as regards the animals belonging to any one group, we know that the circle of their development depends simply on the species, the genus, to which they belong; but the case of man who develops himself as an individual is quite different. If we direct our gaze to the animal kingdom, we find in the animal world the most varied forms, which differ far more from each other than do the human races. Certainly we find great differences in the human races, all over the Earth, but if we compare these with the great difference of the animals from the imperfect up to the more perfect species, we notice how powerful is the differentiation in the animal kingdom — quite different from that in man. On what then does this depend? We can best obtain an approximate answer if we first of all ask: What causes the variety of groups in the animal kingdom, the different species, which we find characteristically spread over the globe?
Occult vision shows us that the cause of the varieties of the animal species does not simply originate on the Earth; rather does the animal species receive its forms from cosmic space, and indeed the forces which produce the one species come from a different part of cosmic space from that whence come the forces which produce another. The forces which construct the various animal-forms stream down upon our Earth-planet from the other planets of our planetary system. We may actually divide the whole animal kingdom into six or seven principal groups, and these chief groups have the highest group-egos. These have the impulse for their activity in the six or seven principal planets belonging to our System; so that the forces which form the principal groups of the animals work down spiritually from the planets. In saying this we have at the same time given the concrete explanation of what is actually meant when we speak of group-egos of the animals. It means that in the animal dwell spiritual forces belonging to beings not to be sought upon the Earth itself, but outside the Earth in cosmic space, and indeed primarily in the planetary world. The regents, as it were, of the principal group-forms of the animals live on our planets; they had to withdraw into these planets in order to work down with their forces at the right distance from the Earth and from the right direction. For only from these directions in space can that come which builds up the principal animal forms in the right way. Now, if the planets were only to allow these forces to stream down upon our Earth we should not actually have the multiplicity in the animal kingdom we now have, we should only have seven principal forms. Once upon a time, in far distant ages, there were only the seven principal animal forms; but these seven forms were very mobile, determinable, so soft and plastic in their formation that they could easily be transformed; one special form into another and again other forms into others; this actually occurred at a later period of time. The seven principal forms date far, far back; but then appeared other forms in addition to these, and as it were, worked either to strengthen or hinder the forces of the planets.
I shall now have to explain how these other forces came into being. If we direct our ordinary vision to the heavenly spaces we may easily believe that everything is actually of like form — but this is not the case. If we direct our gaze to a certain direction in space, occult vision perceives something quite different in one direction from what it sees in another. Space is by no means a homogeneous affair; it is not alike on all sides; for different forces work from the different directions of space. The whole of cosmic space is filled with spiritual beings of the different hierarchies working in different ways from various directions on to the Earth. In those past ages when man had a certain original primitive clairvoyance, the following was clear to him: “If at a particular hour of the day I direct my gaze to one part of the heavens, I encounter certain forces, while in another direction I encounter certain other forces.” And men were also aware that from certain points specially precise and definite forces worked down from cosmic space, which were of quite particular importance to the Earth. These are all arranged in the stellar circle of cosmic space which has since ancient times been called the Zodiac. Men did not then speak without reason of the Zodiac or Animal Circle; they knew why it was so called. In the heavenly spaces the case is as follows. The forces which worked down from the planet Mars, for instance, and brought about in the still plastic animal substance one of the seven principal forms, worked in a different way according to whether Mars stood before one sign of the Zodiac or before another. The Zodiac was divided into twelve Signs, which represent the constellations, and according as the Martian forces which affect one animal form stood before Aries, or Taurus, or any other constellation, their influence varied. In this way the seven different forms were modified. A number of different animal forms were thus made possible; and if you consider that to this must also be added the fact that Mars, for instance, can work qualifyingly when he stands before Leo so that he supplants the Lion in relation to the Earth; or that from the other side he works qualifyingly when the Earth is between the Sun and Mars — you see that there are a very great number of possibilities.
All these forces have worked together to differentiate the seven original groups of the animal kingdom; so that the whole multiplicity of our animal forms on the Earth arose from the fact that the forces of the planets are actually the abode of the group-souls, the group-egos, of the animals; and that these beings fulfill their tasks from these centers, for only from there can they do so. For only because that particular group-soul of an animal form which was to work down from Mars selected that position in the heavens can it exercise the corresponding result upon the Earth below. Here lie the forces which brought about the multiplicity of our animals; and when we use the expression “The animal group-ego is to be found on the astral plane,” that really means that when someone with occult vision wishes to seek the group-ego of any animal form, he must not seek for it on Earth, but on one of the planets. That which with regard to man is to be found on the Earth, occult vision can only discover for the animal outside in cosmic space, among the planets. Just as, for instance, a man who has to accomplish something upon the Earth which necessitates various standpoints must adapt himself to these, so must the group-ego which dwells on a planet pass through cosmic space in front of the Zodiac in order to differentiate its forces from there. If we bring the facts just stated into connection with the fact that the impulse for the animal forms is continually sought today in some principle of the Earth itself — in the struggle for existence or in natural selection or the like — then the facts which have come into being through the efforts of Darwin, for example, are magnificent in so far as he did not go beyond the facts. For unconsciously Darwinism has described the mobility of the original animal forms and how they were actually created from the basic forms. But according to the whole predisposition of our times, man has looked away from the fact that the forces which create those forms work down from cosmic space; and that therefore the creators of the animal forms are to be sought in the world of the planets which belong to our planetary system, but are outside our Earth.
If we now inquire how this matter stands in relation to man, we can only receive an answer by first answering that other question: Of what nature are the spirits which we have now described as the group-souls of the animals and which have their dwelling-place upon the various planets? It is then seen that these group-egos of the animals are the offspring of that category of spiritual beings to which I have referred in this course of lectures as the Spirits of Motion. Thus we must look upon the group-souls of the animals as the offspring of the Spirits of Motion. Now, the Spirits of Motion actually gave out of their own substance the astral body to man during the ancient Moon-condition. In order to complete the matter we may therefore say: This Earth was preceded by the Moon-condition, during which man received his astral body from the Spirits of Motion. In other words. When the Earth was Moon — the Old Moon, not the present one — (the present Moon is only a detached portion of the Earth itself, while the Ancient Moon was an earlier incarnation of our Earth) — while the Earth was in this Ancient Moon condition, the Spirits of Motion hovered, as it were, over this Old Moon and allowed their own substance to trickle in, to stream in, to what man had brought over from previous conditions. So that what man acquired as astral body — which was new to him, for at that time he had only his physical and etheric bodies — was derived from the Spirits of Motion. The Ancient Moon has disappeared; the Earth has been formed; the Spirits of Motion have developed offspring, besides carrying on their own evolution. These are the beings we designate as the group-egos of the animals; they have not taken up their abode upon the Earth but upon the other planets, in order so to work upon the Earth from there as to bring forth the animal forms, in the manner we have described. This is the special point in what I have stated: that we can, in a certain sense, describe the group-egos as offspring of the beings of the Second Hierarchy.
We must now put the following question: These offspring of the Spirits of Motion work down from the planets upon the animals; do similar spiritual beings work upon man, upon the human race spread over the Earth? We cannot answer this as regards those spiritual beings we have cited as the normal members of the several hierarchies; but we have mentioned a special category of spirits which we have called the Luciferic Spirits, and we have described the relation of these to the normal spirits. In our present cycle of time there are Luciferic Spirits in every category of the hierarchies. Whereas the animal group-souls are the normal and proper offspring of the Spirits of Motion, the Luciferic Spirits corresponding to the Spirits of Motion are those who resisted the normal path, and have remained in opposition to the normal Spirits of Motion. These Luciferic Spirits of Motion are grouped on the various planets in relation with the Earth, just as are the normal offspring of the Spirits of Motion. They too, have their parts assigned to them, so to speak, and have their abode apportioned to them on the various planets. Just as the group-souls of the animals dwell on the various planets, so also do certain Luciferic Spirits of Motion. They have set themselves the task which really belongs to the Spirits of Motion; that of working formatively from the planets, so that groups of corresponding beings arise upon the Earth. Just as seven principal animal groups were formed, which have only been specified according to the relations described, so did the Luciferic Beings of Motion work from the planets on to the Earth to differentiate the human race, which was actually, in a certain sense, designed according to a single plan. While in the whole cosmic plan it was intended that a single human form was to arise throughout the Earth, these Luciferic Spirits of Motion worked down from the various planets and differentiated the human form all over the Earth in such a way that the forms of the chief individual human races were able to arise. More details are to be found in my Christiania lectures as to the special way in which the Luciferic Spirits of Motion work to form the different races.
Thus we have to distinguish between the offspring of the Spirits of Motion and the Luciferic Spirits of Motion. But there is something else besides this! Naturally, we shall now have to ask the question: “Where then are the normal Spirits of Motion now, who during the ancient Moon period gave man his astral body?” Where are those who attained the goal of their evolution at the time of the transition from the Moon to that of the Earth? Those completely mature Spirits of Motion, where are they now? The peculiarity of these spirits is that they too have their actual dwelling-place, or, rather, their field of operation, upon the planets of our system; so that they do not, for instance, work directly as Spirits of Motion from the Sun, in which they have their headquarters, so to speak, but first send out their rays to the planets and from these work back upon the Earth. In so far as we have to do with the true Spirits of Motion, their activity comes direct from the planets of our system; but of course everything which works from the planets from those spiritual beings belongs to the supersensible, invisible world as such. Only the effects themselves are externalized upon the Earth; the results appear on the Earth. What, then, do these Spirits do for men, who at one time, upon the Ancient Moon, gave him his astral body from their own substance? This astral body was preserved as a germ in the Earth-existence; and, after the Old Moon had disappeared and an interval had gone by, and the Earth had been formed anew, then this astral body once more developed from the germ. But the Spirits of Motion themselves have developed further, to a higher activity. With regard to their offspring, we know that they have become the group-souls of the animals; those that rebelled against them took part, as we know, in the differentiation of the human races. Where, then, do the progressed, genuine, normally-developed Spirits of Motion reveal themselves? An example will make this evident.
We know that each individual man is guided by what we call his Angel; we know that nations are spiritually led by their nation-spirit or Archangel (nations are quite different from races); we know that the successive periods of civilization are led by the Spirits of the Age, or Archai; and, finally, we know that above the Archai stand that category of the hierarchies which we call the Spirits of Form; while above them are the Spirits of Motion. We will think of them as they are upon the Earth, with the time behind them when they gave to man his astral body and having themselves made their proper progress. Now, in human evolution there is something which goes beyond the character of the mere Spirits of the Age; something more full of significance, more important, for collective humanity than the sphere of the individual Spirits of the Age. The Spirits of the Age work upon the Earth for a definite period of time; but there are spiritual developments in the evolution of humanity as a whole which embrace wider spheres than that of the Spirits of the Age. These great epochs of humanity which extend beyond the influence of the Spirits of the Age have as their regents the normally-developed Spirits of Motion. These so reveal themselves in their activity in the process of the growth of humanity that they stimulate the great impulses of civilization. If we now survey the history of man, the history of human civilization, we see that individual men are guided by the Angels or Angeloi, nations and peoples by the Archangels or Archangeloi; certain periods of civilization are guided by the Spirits of the Age, and also certain spheres (as we shall see) by the Spirits of Form.
Then, however, we have the collective course of the different civilizations in human evolution; so that for certain long periods of time, much longer than those ruled by a Spirit of the Age, the Spirits of Motion are inspiringly active in great spheres — one Spirit of Motion working down from one planet at one time, another working down at another time from another planet. Thus these normally developed Spirits of Motion so work down from the planets that they succeed one another in the process of human evolution, and reveal themselves in the great civilization impulses in the evolution of the Earth which reach out beyond the sphere of the Spirits of the Age. Thus, for example, from that Spirit of Motion who worked down from the planet which present-day astronomy calls Venus, and which ancient astronomy called Mercury (for these two names have been exchanged), from that Spirit of Motion came originally that impulse of civilization which was expressed in Buddhism. Other impulses of civilization coming from beyond the mere Spirits of the Age came from the Spirits of Motion on the other planets. Thus, while from the offspring of the Spirits of Motion come the group-souls of the animals, and from the Luciferic Spirits of Motion the racial forms of humanity, these great impulses of civilization come from the Spirits of Motion who have attained their normal evolution. Many other impulses also come from this direction, but it is important at present to bear in mind, from this point of view, the impulses of civilization. Now, here you have in this development of our whole planetary system something you find mentioned among the great truths which, as every experienced student knows, are to be found in The Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky. Those who know find indications of this there. On one page is written “Buddha = Mercury” — i.e., Buddha equals Mercury. That means the individuality who was the leader of Buddhism was traced back in occultism to the Spirit of Motion who works down from that planet. He is the inspirer; from him comes the influence expressed in that stream of civilization. It is indeed the case that this remarkable book, The Secret Doctrine, by H. P. Blavatsky, brings great truths, but they must be recognized in the right way. We must not simply accept this as a book of dogmas; we must trace each single thing in it; then only shall we recognize the greatness of this book. Of all the great truths taught by the true occultist, significant intimations are to be found in The Secret Doctrine of, H. P. Blavatsky; and when through its inspirer there was inscribed in The Secret Doctrine: “Buddha is equivalent to Mercury” — that hinted at the great truth of which the inspirer of H. P. Blavatsky was well aware: that the individual who in the twenty-ninth year of his life became the Buddha was able at the time symbolically indicated as the “sitting under the Bodhi Tree” to begin to be inspired by the Spirit of Motion enthroned in Mercury. This individual from being a Boddhisattva therewith became a Buddha. That means that his spirit was filled and inspired not by what comes from the Earth-sphere, but from universal space, from the cosmos. He was thus withdrawn from the Earth-sphere to Nirvana — that is, into a sphere in which the Earth-sphere no longer plays a part. H. P. Blavatsky, in her ordinary consciousness, knew nothing of many of these things, but her inspirer knew them. These things must be drawn forth from the depths of occultism, and in these subtle and great truths things must not be confused one with another. Now it is not my intention to assert that directly a Boddhisattva is raised to a Buddha, a Spirit of Motion alone works inspiringly upon him; for the beings of the higher hierarchies work through him also. The essential point is that from that time onward the spirits of the lower hierarchies fell away; so that he could come directly in contact, so to speak, with those beings designated as the normally developed Spirits of Motion.
Now before we consider the process of human civilization from another aspect, let us pass to the plant-kingdom. In that kingdom we see that the astral body is to be found on the astral plane, where also are the group-egos of the animals. This leads back to the real fact revealed to occult vision with regard to the plants: that not only in their group-egos, but already in the astral body of the plant, forces are actively working down from the planetary system, from the stars. Thus, whereas in the animal the Spirits of Motion are only active in the group-forces, in the forces which create the group-forms, that which belongs to the sphere of the Spirits of Motion works in the plant on the astral body. The offspring of the Spirits of Motion belong also to this category, only they differ from the offspring of other beings because they were formed at a somewhat different time, but as offspring of the Spirits of Motion they work not merely upon the ego but upon the astral body of the plants.
We may therefore say that forces of the Spirits of Motion or their offspring work down upon the astral bodies of the plants from the planets of the planetary system. In every being the astral body is that which gives the impulse to motion. Belonging to the plants we have on the physical plane their physical and etheric bodies. If any forces whatever were to work upon the plants from the sphere of the Spirits of Motion, these forces would — as the astral body is not in the plants but around them — bring about movement in the plants, though not movements like those of men and animals, but such as to draw forth the plants from the Earth when they first appear. When you see the forces developing in a spiral in a plant from stipule to stipule, you then have the activity of those forces which work down from the planets. And according as the forces of the offspring of the Spirits of Motion work down from this or that planet does this peculiar line which puts forth the leaves vary. This gives a certain means of studying the actual orbits of the individual planets through their reflection; and when external science has once recognized this fact, it will have to correct a great deal of the former astronomical systems. Certain plants are allotted to the forces of the Spirits of Motion who work from Mars, others to those who are on Venus, others to those on Mercury. They work in here from their planet, and according as they work in from one or the other, they impart to the plant the movement expressed in their spiral coil of leaves; it is the same movement which the corresponding planet makes, the absolute movement it makes in the heavens. If you take an ordinary convolvulus, in which the stalk itself is twisted, you have in the spiral movement of the stalk an imitation of the planetary movements which proceed from the Spirit of Motion. When the stalk is fixed, you have in the stipules images of those forces which proceed from the Spirits of Motion of the planets of the planetary system. These forces work upon the plants in cooperation with the actual group-egos, and these group-egos work in such a way that we can discover the direction of their forces simply by connecting the Sun with the center point of the Earth; that is to say, together with the forces which come from the Spirits of Motion, other forces work which go in the direction of the stalk of the plant, which is always striving toward the center point of the Earth. Thus we have to compose the whole plant out of that which grows toward the Sun or toward the center of the Earth and that which winds itself around and copies in the stipules the movements of the planets. This corresponds, however, with the real fact that we have to seek the direct impulse of activity for the group-egos of the plants in the direction from Earth to Sun. That is, if now we do not direct our occult vision to the planet but to the Sun, we shall find the different group-egos of the plants. These group-egos of the plants are the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom, just as the group-egos of the animals are the offspring of the Spirits of Motion. Thus in the group-egos of the plants we have to recognize the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom.
Now, in the course of these lectures I have stated that in the nature-spirits we have to see the offspring of the Third Hierarchy, and that in the group-egos we have to see the offspring of the Second Hierarchy. Now we come, in addition, to the Spirits of the Rotation of Time, the rulers or regulators of the epochs. We have now reached a position in which we can allude to the functions of a certain category of such Spirits of the Rotation of Time. At this point we can state that certain Spirits of the Rotation of Time unite the forces of movement coming down from the planets to the plants that work spirally with the forces which come down from the Sun. Both these forces are brought together at a definite time by the Spirits of the Rotation of Time, and indeed at that time of the year when the plant progresses toward its fructification. The spiral principle of movement is united with the principle which works in the stalk.
Hence in the stamens we have the principle which works spirally, and the principle which is the direct continuation of the stalk, in the ovary, in the center of the plant. When the course of the plant is completed, that is, when the Spirits of the Rotation of Time appointed to the plants unite their activity — the activity of the planetary spirits — with the activity of the Sun-spirit, then in the now completed plant those organs which till then followed the planets spirally are arranged in a neat circle like the stamens, while the stalk itself elongates and terminates in the ovary. These two are then united; the growth of the plant is complete when to the two spiritual activities of the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom and of Motion is added the activity of the Spirits of the Rotation of Time, uniting the two spiritual beings in a sort of marriage. Thus in the plant kingdom we have had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom. Further, as you may read in my Occult Science or The Akashic Records, we must assume that these offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom have been formed since the time when these Spirits of Wisdom themselves gave the etheric body to man from their own substance. That occurred when the Earth was in the Old Sun condition; the etheric body of man was then derived from the Spirits of Wisdom. But now, since that time, the Sun condition progressed to the Moon condition, and this again progressed to the Earth condition. During the Moon condition the Spirits of Wisdom — who had, during the Sun period, been able to give man his etheric body out of their own substance — had already progressed so far that they no longer needed to develop the capacity of giving anything to man. On the Earth they had progressed to still higher activities. Now it is not exclusively characteristic of the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom, whom we discovered as the group-egos of the plant kingdom, to give a direct impulse from the Sun, that it seems to come not only from the planets but from the Sun; it is also peculiar to the actual Spirits of Wisdom that they reveal themselves as coming directly down from the Sun to the Earth. Now, how are the impulses revealed which come down from these Spirits of Wisdom who have gone through their normal evolution?
We have seen that in such a personality as the Buddha there is a normally developed Spirit of Motion working down from a planet and inspiring him. We now reach the point of seeking for the normal Spirits of Wisdom. According to the whole spirit of our considerations we must seek them upon the Sun. We must seek them there in the same sense that we have to seek for the normal Spirits of Motion as working from the planets — though they, too, have their real habitation upon the Sun. We have to seek the impulse of the normally developed Spirits of Wisdom as coming directly from the Sun. Now, however, we come to something peculiar. Certainly with regard to the plants, if we really investigate occultly, we can distinguish a differentiation because we are concerned with the offspring of the Spirits of Wisdom; but if we consider the plants on Earth in relation to the Spirits of Wisdom on the Sun, their movements all appear more or less as a vertical union of the Sun with the center-point of the Earth. In the plant-forms we can distinguish what proceeds from the spirits who have their dwelling-place in the planets; but what we perceive as proceeding from the Spirits of Wisdom flows together in a vertical line. In a similar manner — and everyone who is acquainted with the occult facts in this sphere would give precisely the same information — it is the case that in the region we enter when we direct our gaze to the Sun (for we must seek the normal Spirits of Wisdom there) we can no longer distinguish any differentiations. There we perceive unity. What proceeds from the normal spirits flows together in a unity. Now, when we come to the question: Where is that revealed which proceeds from the unity of the Spirits of Wisdom who have their dwelling-place directly upon the Sun? Where is that revealed in the activity of the Earth? — we thus come to a still wider sphere.
The sphere of such a spirit as the one who inspired the Buddha (the Spirit of Motion on Mercury) is insignificant in comparison with the wider, more comprehensive sphere which in the process of the development of mankind is directed by the Spiritual Beings of Wisdom perceived as Unity, and which is to be sought upon the Sun. If we go back to the civilization of ancient India, then we find that the Seven Holy Rishis spoke of that which each one of them had to give to humanity from their occult foundations. They were conscious of having preserved that which, through seven long periods of civilization, had been directed by the Spirits of Motion. It was just as though seven successive periods of time were all at once to unite in the evolution of the Earth, and were so to work that they represented a college of great individualities. So it came about that these seven successive activities of the Spirits of the Planets came to light in that which the Seven Holy Rishis had to say to humanity; each one speaking what he himself knew. They did not assert that what they had to give was the direct outflow of a Spirit of Motion, but they said that it was like a recollection in the soul of each of what had been given earlier by the Spirits of Motion. For the exalted wisdom which the Holy Rishis gave to humanity was the great recollection of the ancient Atlantean civilizations, only in a new form. At the same time, these seven Holy Rishis said: “Above them which we have to give as the civilizations of the seven successive periods of time, lies something else which exists beyond our sphere.” That which lay above their sphere the Holy Rishis called Vishvakarman. Thus they alluded to something which lay beyond their sphere, and which comprised a greater Earth-sphere than that of the separate Spirits of Motion. As it was with the spheres of the Spirits of the Age, so did the Holy Rishis point to epochs of civilization which lie beyond the sphere of the individual Spirits of Motion.
Then came the civilization of Zarathustra; and Zarathustra pointed again to the same being whom the Holy Rishis had called Vishvakarman, only he alluded to him in his own way as Ahura Mazdao. The Holy Rishis knew, as also did Zarathustra, that what is meant by Vishvakarman represents the Spirit of Wisdom who streams down upon the Earth and encompasses wider spheres than do the individual Spirits of Motion. Zarathustra too knew that Ahura Mazdao has wider spheres than the Spirits of Motion.
Then came the Egyptian civilization; and for certain reasons it became necessary to say: The present time (that is, the Egyptian present) is not fitted to direct its vision to that Sun-spirit of Wisdom whom Zarathustra divined in his own way. Hence the Egyptian civilization clothed their concept of the nature of this Spirit in the legend that when he wished to come down to the Earth he was immediately dismembered. Osiris dismembered by his brother is a reference to that to which the Holy Rishis pointed in their Vishvakarman. Then came the fourth post-Atlantean period of civilization, and pointed out that that to which every epoch of civilization had alluded was, by reason of certain special circumstances, to he attained in direct vision in the fourth period of civilization; that is, it was made possible through special events of the fourth post-Atlantean period for a being to be inspired. The Seven Holy Rishis alluded to the fact that this being existed. Zarathustra said that the occult vision directed to the Sun sees this being. The Egyptian civilization stated that this being is still so far from the Earth that man can only meet him after death. The fourth period was able to point out that conditions had arisen in our Earth evolution making it possible that for three years a human being could be directly inspired by this Spirit of Wisdom. Hence it was possible to recognize as a fact that the sphere of this Sun-spirit of Wisdom is much more comprehensive than the sphere of the Spirits of Motion, for it now embraces the whole collective process of civilization on Earth. That which was designated in the language of the Holy Rishis as Vishvakarman, in that of Zarathustra as Ahura Mazdao, in the Egyptian (if one really understands what stands behind the name) as Osiris, and which we in the fourth period of civilization designate by the word “Christ,” is that which has shone down through the portal of the Sun-spirit of Wisdom. I have never said that the Spirit of Motion alone shone through the Buddha, nor do I now say that the Sun-spirit of Wisdom alone shone through the Christ. He was the portal through which occult vision could be directed into infinite spheres, wherein are the Spirits of the higher hierarchies; but the portal was the Spirit of Wisdom, the Sun-spirit of Wisdom. As the Sun is related to the planets, so is the Sun-spirit of Wisdom related to the Spirits of Motion, who, on their part, express themselves in such Spirits as the one who inspired Buddha. H. P. Blavatsky intended to express this in her theory; it would never have occurred to her to identify any of the planetary Spirits of Motion with the Christ.
It would be a gross defection from the original spirit of the Theosophical Movement — in which so much that is great and true and important, so many occult truths, have prevailed — if we were to confuse what we have been able to learn through occultism with regard to such spirits as reach their height in such a name as that of Buddha, of whom H. P. Blavatsky so plainly points out in her simple allegation that he corresponds to the Spirit of Mercury. It would be a breach with all the original starting points of the theosophical revelation, with that teaching which in its time was rightly understood and in which the spirit of Buddha was never mistaken for the Christ-Spirit — if today we were to confuse these different beings. It would be a breach if we did not know through our basic teaching how to distinguish between those Spirits who guide the growth of humanity in the course of successive periods of time and reached the summit in spirits such as Buddha, and that Spirit to whom all the rest, even Buddha himself, have alluded, and who is the unitary spirit of the whole Earth-evolution, just as the Sun is the unitary body of the whole planetary system. This unitary spirit must, in the sense of the fourth post-Atlantean period of civilization, be designated as the Christ. In the solar system we cannot, in the ordinary sense, speak of two Suns and say that the Sun which at one time covers the Ram is not the same Sun which covers the Goat at another time; we must be quite clear that it is the same Sun which passes through all the signs of the Zodiac; but that there are different planets, which pass through the Zodiac. We must also be clear on the following point. When we speak of the Christ, who passes through the spheres of the different civilizations of the whole evolution of humanity on the Earth, and who has always been recognized by all religions when they attain their climax, we must distinguish this Christ-Spirit from the spirits of the different spheres which reached their summit, as it were, in their great individualities, even as Buddhism reached its climax in Buddha. This shows how the objective must first be sought in these matters.
When the Western occultist has to allude to this fact he ought not to be reproached with wishing to forward something which would be a lack of tolerance toward other religions; for spiritual science has the task of allowing every religion its right place. When such a reproach is made, we should not forget that what was demanded of the Western occultists has already been accomplished. Did the Christ-Impulse arise in the West? Has any Western nation brought forth the Christ-Impulse from its own people, its own races? No; the Christ-Impulse, as an impulse given to the whole of humanity, has been accepted, though this Christ-Impulse, in relation to its external presentation, was foreign to the peoples of the West. The Western civilization first showed that it had a comprehension of the necessary renunciation of personal possession. When the West declined the Spirit of Motion from Mars as a direct Inspirer, when it exchanged that Inspirer for the Christ-Spirit — the Inspirer corresponding to the Sun-spirit of Wisdom — it accomplished a historical and important fact. It is unfair that the West should be blamed by other religions for intolerance in respect of this matter. The great leaders of the other religions always show that they recognize the Spirits of Wisdom as being more exalted than the Spirits of Motion. Just those who wish to make their own Spirit of Motion a sort of Leading-Spirit under another name, who do not themselves wish to take the step of ascending from their own Spirit to the Sun-Spirit, they can say that intolerance is shown by those who have already practiced tolerance. Let them first exercise tolerance in other spheres, that tolerance which the West has already exercised in exchanging its Spirit of Motion for a Spirit of Wisdom.
Thus a theosophical act was accomplished before Theosophy existed, by seeing that the individual religions have their rights, inasmuch as no single impulse belonging to any one single group of humanity is claimed for the Christ, but only that to which Theosophy also lays claim, namely, to seek the impulse which is an impulse of humanity as distinct from the special religions as the Sun-Impulse from all the planets. It is from the depths of occultism, my dear friends, that these facts are thus represented objectively; and if it were ever to be said that this representation of the Christ-Impulse arises from any special national or racial interest, or from Western interests, such a remark could only be made through ignorance of the relation of facts — or through a misrepresentation of them. In all things we must boldly and sincerely face the objective facts; and this we can only do if we look into the depths of the world's becoming. All occult truths show us finally how cosmic evolution comes about; but we must have the courage as well as the necessary impartiality to come face to face with this cosmic evolution. With regard to names — whether borrowed from the East or from the West, whether borne by this or that personal Spirit — that does not signify to us. What does concern us, what we must recognize, is that which is at work in the world. Spiritual science teaches us to see and perceive what works in the world. In fact, in the field of spiritual science, we have developed the instinct — I might say — for finding the right. We must not always long for new sensations, but try to understand a little of what lies in the first impulses of the Theosophical Movement. When H. P. Blavatsky identified the Buddha with Mercury, a great truth was expressed, which will be so much the more recognized the more the relation of the Buddha to Christ is recognized in occult spheres; just as we learn to know cosmic relationships better when we recognize the relation of the planet Mercury to the fixed star — the Sun. These things cannot be shaken from their foundations through human prejudices; but they only work aright in the process of civilization if we look them impartially in the face. This had to be added to what was stated today with regard to the Spirits active in the planets and in the Sun; for these Spirits extend their activity to the Earth, and the world has no idea how deeply much of what must be taught in popular lectures is rooted in occult foundations. How deeply grounded is that relation which has just been given of the successive spheres of civilization of which the one culminated in Buddha, the other in — call it what you will: the fourth epoch of civilization called it Christ. In how far the one differs from the other can only be learnt from the depths of occultism. But occultism also convinces us how, rightly looked at, the cosmos everywhere offers us signs for that which is so deeply instilled within our hearts. So we must say: If we learn the writing spread forth in the cosmos, in the stars, in their ordering and motions, we shall find that out from the cosmos everywhere speaks that which permeates our hearts with truth, love, and that piety which carries forward the evolution of humanity from epoch to epoch.
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