Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Good and Evil Spirits and Their Influence upon Man. Lecture 3: the evolution of the solar system and of human beings

The Influence of Spiritual Beings upon Man. Lecture 3

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, February 15, 1908:

The purpose of these lectures is to bring still loftier concepts to those more advanced students of theosophy who have been familiar for some time with its world-conception and — which is much more important — have become at home in its way of thinking and feeling. This will make it more difficult for the late-comers to follow; perhaps they are well able to follow with their understanding, but it will become increasingly difficult for them to regard as sound and reasonable what is brought forward from the higher sections of theosophy. Much goodwill, therefore, will be required of newcomers to follow these group-lectures with the understanding of feeling and perception. Yet we should make no progress if we had no opportunity of throwing light upon the higher realms of spiritual existence as well. That then is the purpose of these lectures.
Now, in the last lecture I gave you a picture of the evolution of our whole planetary system. Before that we had considered the planetary system itself in so far as the various planets are peopled by beings who have an influence on our human body. What is to be brought forward today will link on to these two previous studies. We will extend still further our picture of the planetary system and learn some of the mysteries of our cosmic existence from a spiritual aspect.
In the numerous popular accounts of the origin of our planetary system one is first led back to a kind of original mist, to a vast foglike structure, a nebula, out of which our sun and its planets have somehow agglomerated, although for the driving force in this process only physical forces, as a rule, are taken into account. This is called the “Kant-Laplace theory,” though it is somewhat modified today; and those who have arrived at an intellectual grasp of the gradual agglomeration of the different planets out of the original nebula up to the condition in which they and our earth now exist are very proud of their intelligence. They continually emphasize that it is but little in keeping with the present important advance in science to speak of spiritual forces and spiritual beings in this separation of the heavenly bodies out of the nebula. Various popular books, too, describe such statements as completely backward and superstitious.
Now, the intelligence of a student of theosophy would suffice for an understanding of what is brought forward in this way. But he goes somewhat further. It is clear to him that the physical forces of attraction and repulsion were not enough. It is clear that all sorts of other things played a part. Theosophy has still to put up with being proclaimed thoroughly dense and stupid and a dreadful superstition by popular official science — which one could perhaps call “antisophy.” But we are living in an age which in a remarkable way is full of hope for the theosophist. It could he said that the theories, opinions and knowledge that modern popular science forms from its own facts look like tiny, gasping, dwarf-like creatures which run puffing and blowing at a considerable distance behind the facts. The facts of modern science are actually far, far ahead of the “belief” of modern science — only that is not recognized. I should only like to remind you of how we have often spoken here of the activity of the astral body during the night, of how the astral body at night works at upbuilding the physical and etheric bodies and ridding them of the fatigue substances they have acquired during the day. To express the sentence in this form would simply strike modern science as something not fit for polite society. But facts speak a plain language. When, for example, we can read in an American paper today that a researcher has established the theory that the sleep activity in man is an involving, constructive one, whereas on the other hand the waking activity is a destructive one, you have again a proof of how modern science runs after the facts like little dwarfs who cannot keep up. In the world-conception of theosophy you have the great illuminating views that are drawn out of a spiritual conception of the world.
When we consider the origin of our present solar system theosophically we need in no wise — nor in other fields — directly contradict what is put forward by physical science. For theosophy has no objections to make in respect of what physical science strives to know — that is, what eyes could have seen in the successive phases of evolution. If at the time of the original nebula someone had placed a chair out in universal space, had sat on it for a sufficiently long lifetime and had watched how the different globes had gathered themselves into balls and separated off, with physical eyes he would have seen nothing but what physical science has affirmed. But that would be just the same as if two observers reported that a man gave another a box on the ear and one of them should say: The man was furiously angry with the other and that made him shoot out his hand and give the other a box on the ear. The second observer might say: I saw nothing of anger or passion, I only saw the hand move and inflict the blow. — That is the external, materialistic description, the method employed by modern science; it does not contradict the spiritual examination of the facts. However, the man who believes that this materialistic description is the only one naturally feels that his scientific eminence is vastly superior to everything put forward by spiritual research. The modified Kant-Laplace theory may definitely hold good as an external event, but within the whole forming of globes, within this whole crystallizing of the separate cosmic globes, spiritual forces and spiritual beings were at work.
The experimenter shows us today in a beautiful way how this Kant-Laplace theory can proceed. One need only take a fairly small ball of oil that swims in water. Then one can very easily put a little cardboard disk in the plane of the equator through this ball and put a needle through the center. Now one rotates the needle very rapidly, little oil-balls split off, and it is easy to picture a cosmic system in miniature and to show how a cosmic system has separated itself off into globes in space. The experimenter has only forgotten one thing. He forgets that he himself was there, that he made the necessary preparation, that he then rotated the needle and that what cannot go of itself on a miniature scale cannot go of itself in the universe. Out there it is supposed to go of itself. Things are not in the least so very difficult to comprehend, but the right physical principles are so worn out that those who do not want to see them really need not see them. So, spiritual forces and spiritual beings were active in this whole process of planet formation, and we will now learn something about it.
I must remind you of the often-repeated fact that before our Earth became “Earth” it had gone through earlier embodiments, other planetary conditions — the Saturn, Sun, and Moon conditions, and only then advanced to its present Earth condition. Now picture vividly ancient Saturn, floating in space in the far-distant past, the first embodiment of our Earth. Within the whole being of Saturn there was as yet nothing at all of what we see around us today as our plants, minerals, animals. Saturn consisted in the beginning of nothing but the very first rudiments of humanity. We speak of ancient Saturn as of nothing but a sort of conglomeration of human beings. Man existed at that time only in the first rudiments of his physical body. Ancient Saturn was simply composed of individual physical human bodies — somewhat as a mulberry or blackberry is composed of nothing but single tiny berries. It was surrounded by an atmosphere, as today our Earth is surrounded by air, but in relation to what we know as atmosphere today it was spiritual. It was entirely of a spiritual nature, and within the Saturn evolution man began his first development. Then came a time when Saturn went through a state similar to man's condition between death and rebirth in Devachan. One calls this state of a cosmic body, Pralaya. Thus Saturn went through a sort of devachanic state, and when it entered again upon a kind of externally perceptible existence, it emerged as our Earth's second planetary stage, as Sun. This Sun-condition brought the human being again further. Certain beings which had remained behind now emerged at the side of the human kingdom, so that there were then two kingdoms on the Sun. Then came a Pralaya, a devachanic condition, after which the whole planet was transformed into the Moon-condition; and so it continued, again a Pralaya, until the Moon passed over into our Earth.
When our Earth came forth from the purely spiritual devachanic state and received for the first time a kind of externally perceptible existence, it was not like it is today. In fact, seen externally, it could really be pictured as a kind of great primordial nebula, as our physical science describes. Only we must think of this primordial mist as immense, far greater than the present earth, extending far beyond the outermost planets now belonging to our solar system — far beyond Uranus. To spiritual science what is seen coming forth from a spiritual condition is not merely a kind of physical mist. To describe it as a kind of mist and nothing more is about as sensible as if a man who has seen another should reply to a question as to what he saw: I saw muscles which are attached to bones and blood — simply describing the physical aspect. For in the primordial mist there were a multitude of spiritual forces and spiritual beings. They belonged to it, and what happened in this primordial mist was a consequence of the deeds of spiritual beings. All that the physicist sees when he sets out a chair in cosmic space and watches the proceedings, he describes just as the observer who denied the passion and anger and described only the moving hand. In reality, what took place there — the separating off of cosmic bodies and globes — was the act of spiritual beings; in the primordial mist, therefore, we must see the garment, the outer manifestation, of a multitude of spiritual beings.
They are spiritual beings at very varied stages of evolution. They do not arise out of a nothingness, they have a past behind them. They have the Saturn, Sun, Moon-past behind them. They have gone through all this and now they stand before the task of turning into deeds all that they have gone through. They have to “do” what they have learnt on Saturn, Sun, Moon, and they stand at most diverse heights of development. Among them are beings who were as advanced on ancient Saturn as man is on Earth today. These have already passed through their human stage on Saturn and thus stand far above man at the outset of the Earth's evolution. Other beings are there who went through their human stage on the Sun, others who did so on the Moon. The human being waited to go through his human stage on the Earth. Even if we consider only this fourfold hierarchy we have a series of different beings at different stages of evolution.
We call the beings who went through their human stage on the Sun the “Fire-Spirits,” but you must not imagine that they were externally like the men of today. They went through their human stage in a different external form. The ancient Sun planet had an extraordinarily fine, light substance, far lighter than our present substance. At that time there was no kind of solid or fluid; nothing but the gaseous element existed, and the bodies of the Fire-Spirits, in spite of their being of human rank, were gaseous bodies. One can go through the human stage in cosmic evolution in the most varied forms. Only the Earth-man goes through it in the flesh on Earth. The beings who had human rank on the Moon and who were already at a higher stage than man went through it in a kind of watery condition.
Thus these spirits, and a whole host of others, were united with the primordial mist that lay at the starting-point of our solar system. Thus, for instance, you can readily understand that what began for man upon Saturn began in some way for other beings upon the Sun. As on Saturn the first rudiments of the physical body began, so on the Sun other beings followed, just as in schools different primary pupils are always following on. These beings have only advanced to the point of being physically incorporated in our contemporary animals. On the Moon followed beings who are present in our contemporary plants, and our present minerals have only been added on the Earth. These are our youngest companions in evolution, whose pains and joys I described to you in a previous lecture. Thus in the original mist there were not only advanced beings but those too who had not yet reached the human stage.
We must now add to those which I have enumerated, beings I have spoken of as lagging behind at certain stages of cosmic evolution. Let us take the Fire-Spirits. They had already attained their human stage on the Sun, and now, on the Earth, they are highly exalted beings, two stages above man. They are so advanced that not until man has ascended through the Jupiter and Venus existence to the Vulcan existence will he be mature for such an existence as that of the lofty Sun-Spirits at the beginning of the Earth's development. But now there were beings who had remained behind, who should have progressed on the Sun as far as the Fire-Spirits, but who for certain reasons stayed behind. They could not develop to the full height which the Fire-Spirits had reached when the Earth stood at the outset of its evolution.
You will all remember that at the very beginning of its evolution the Earth was still one body with sun and moon — and this you can easily combine with the theory of the original mist or nebula. If you were, therefore, to stir together the three heavenly bodies, earth, sun, moon, in a gigantic cosmic cauldron you would get a body which at one time existed. Then came the time when the sun drew out and left earth and moon, to be followed by a time when the moon too drew out and left our earth as it is today with the sun on one side and the moon on the other. We now ask ourselves how it came about that three bodies arose out of the one. You will easily see why that happened when you remember that highly evolved beings, standing two stages above man, were present in the primordial mist — unified with its external existence. They would have had nothing directly to do on such a cosmic body as our present-day earth; they needed a dwelling place with quite different characteristics. On the other hand the human being would have been consumed in an existence united with the sun. He needed a weakened, milder existence. It was essential then that through the action of the Fire-Spirits the sun should be withdrawn from the earth and made into their scene of action. It was not a merely physical event: we must understand it as the deed of the Fire-Spirits themselves. They drew out their dwelling place and all they needed as substances from the earth and made their theater the sun. By virtue of their nature they can endure that immense velocity of development. If the human being were exposed to such a velocity, then scarcely were he young when he would at once become old. All evolution went on at a furious tempo. Only such beings as stood two stages higher than man could bear the sun-existence. They drew away together with the sun and left behind the earth with the moon.
Now we can answer the question too why the moon had to separate from the earth. If the moon had remained united with the earth, then man could again not have sustained his existence. The moon had to be thrust out, for it would have mummified man's whole development. Men would not have undergone such a rapid development as they would had the sun remained, but they would have been carbonized, dried to mummies; their evolution would have been such a slow one that they would have become mummified. In order to produce just the degree of development useful to man, the moon with its forces and its subordinate beings had to be thrust out. And so likewise united with the moon are those beings which I have described as remaining at a time of life comparable to that reached today on earth by a seven-year-old child. As they only go through an existence such as a human existence up to the age of seven, when only the physical body is developed, they need a dwelling-place such as the moon. When you add the fact that not only these various beings were united with the original nebula, but a whole series more, standing at very varied stages of evolution, then you will understand that not only these cosmic bodies, earth, sun, moon, separated from the nebula, but other cosmic bodies too. Indeed they all agglomerated as separate globes because scenes of action had to be found for the varying stages of evolution of the different beings.
Thus there were beings at the very beginning of our Earth who were scarcely fitted to take part in further development, who were still so young in their whole evolution that any further step would have destroyed them. They had to receive a sphere of action, so to speak, on which they could preserve their complete youthfulness. All other fields of action existed to give dwelling-places to those who were already more advanced. For the beings who arose last of all during the Moon existence, and who therefore had stayed behind at a very early evolutionary stage, a field of action had to be separated out. This scene of action was the cosmic body which we call “Uranus,” and which therefore has but slight connection with our earthly existence. Uranus has become the theater for beings which had to remain at a very backward stage.
Then evolution proceeded. Apart from Uranus, all that forms our universe was contained in an original pap-like mass. Greek mythology calls this condition “Chaos.” Then Uranus separated out, the rest remaining still in the Chaos. Within it were beings who in their development stood precisely at the stage at which we human beings stood when our Earth passed through the Saturn condition. And for these beings a special theater, “Saturn,” was created, since standing at that stage, only just beginning their existence, they could not share in all that came later. Thus a second cosmic body split off, Saturn, which you still see in the heavens today. It arose through the fact that there were beings who stood at the same stage as man at the Saturn-time of the Earth. Whereas Saturn arose as a separate cosmic body, everything else that belongs to our present planetary system, the earth with all its beings, was still in this original pap-like mass. Only Uranus and Saturn were outside.
The next thing that took place was the separating of another planet which had to become the scene for a certain stage of development. That was the planet Jupiter, the third to split off from the misty mass which for us is actually the earth. At the time of Jupiter's separation, sun, moon, as well as all the other planets of our system, were still united with the earth. When Jupiter had split off there gradually arose the forerunners of contemporary humanity. That is to say, our present human beings emerged again just as a new plant comes out of the seed. The human seeds had gradually formed during the conditions of ancient Saturn, Sun, and Moon, and now while the sun was still linked with the earth these human seeds came out again.
But now the human beings would not have been able to evolve further; they could not support the tempo as long as the sun remained with the earth. Then something came about which we can well understand when we are clear that the beings we have called the Fire-Spirits took their scene of action away from the earth. The sun pressed out, and we have now sun, with earth and moon together. During this time Mars — in a way which would take too much time to relate now in detail — had again formed a theater for particular beings, and in its further advance Mars actually passed through the earth and moon and left behind what today we know as iron. Hence Mars was the cause of the iron particles deposited in living beings, that is, in the blood. Now someone could say: That is not so very remarkable; iron is everywhere. For just as other bodies were in the primordial mist, so too was Mars with the iron which it left behind. Iron is in all the other planets as well! — Science today, however, wonderfully confirms what is given here from the teaching of spiritual science. You will remember that I once showed you how one passes symbolically from the green sap of the plant, chlorophyll, to the blood of man. Plants arose at the period before this passage of Mars had taken place and have preserved their characteristic. Then the iron was deposited in the beings more highly organized than the plants, permeating the red blood. Thus what has recently been found in a Zurich laboratory is in complete accord with these spiritual-scientific facts, namely, that blood cannot be compared with chlorophyll, simply because it was deposited later. We must not imagine that blood depends in any way on the substantiality of the chemical element “iron.” I say that especially, because someone might say that one can speak of no connection at all of chlorophyll with the blood. Today science makes the discovery that the blood is to be traced back to the element “iron” — whereas chlorophyll contains no iron. It is nevertheless in the fullest harmony with what Spiritual Science has to say; it is only a matter of looking at things in the right light.
Then for reasons which we have already stated, the moon separated and we have the earth by itself and the present moon as its satellite. To the sun withdrew all the beings of an essentially higher order than man, whom we have called the Fire-Spirits. But there were certain beings which had not ascended high enough to be able really to endure the sun existence. You must be clear that they were beings exalted far above man, but still not so far advanced as to be able, like the Fire-Spirits, to live on the sun. Dwelling-places had to be created for them. None of the other theaters could have served them, for those were for beings of another nature, who had by no means attained the great age of the beings who, though belonging to the Fire-Spirits, had not quite kept up with them in cosmic evolution. In the main there were two species of beings who had remained behind, and two special arenas were therefore formed for them through the severing of Mercury and Venus from the sun. Mercury and Venus are two planets which have split off as the centers for those Fire-Spirits who are exalted far above human existence, yet who could not have supported the sun-existence. So you have Mercury in the neighborhood of the sun as arena for those beings who had not been able to live with the Fire-Spirits on the sun, and Venus as arena for beings who in a certain respect had remained behind the Mercury beings but who yet stood far above man.
Thus you have seen these various cosmic bodies originate out of the primordial mist from inner causes, from spiritually inspired activities. If one keeps to the physical alone, matters take their course in the way depicted by modern science, but the point is to learn to know the spiritual causes by which things have become what they are. Inside the primordial mist, the beings have themselves created the dwelling-places in which they could live. Now these various beings, who were, so to say, harmoniously side by side before they had separated, did not remain without connection. On the contrary, they work through one another throughout. The influence of the Mercury and Venus beings on the earth is of a quite special interest. Put yourselves back into the time when the sun and then the moon released itself from the earth and man began his existence in his present form. He has acquired this existence in the present form through the fact that one of the Sun-Spirits forbore — if I may so express it — from continuing his existence on the sun, but united himself with the moon. In this way a lofty regent of the moon arose. Beings of a lower order existed on the moon, but one of the Sun-Spirits united himself with the moon-existence. This Sun-Spirit, who is therefore really a displaced Sun-Spirit in the universe is, as divine, spiritual being, Yahve, Jehovah, the regent of the moon. We shall see why that came about if we consider the following.
We have seen that if the sun had remained united to the earth, man would have been consumed by the swift course of development, and if the moon and its forces alone had worked upon man he would have been mummified. Precisely through the harmony of sun and moon forces arose the equilibrium that keeps man in the present tempo of evolution. When the Earth had come over from the old Moon, man had his physical body from Saturn, his etheric body from the Sun, and his astral body from the Moon. But because he had the three bodies, and the seed with the three bodies now began to develop, he had a very different form. You would open your eyes in amazement if I should describe it to you, for the present human form has arisen quite slowly and gradually from the time of the moon-separation. But the base, inferior moon-forces could not have given man his present form. They could certainly have given him a form, but an inferior one. If the moon-forces had remained with the earth they would have held him fast in one form. Forces that give form must proceed from the moon, while forces that continually alter the form proceed from the sun. But in order that the present human form should arise, a molder, a modeler of form, must work from the moon; it was not possible otherwise. At that time therefore began the development of the ego-man. The fourth member of the human entity arose and Yahve gave the human being the nucleus to a form which would enable him to become an ego-bearer.
Now man was not yet capable of carrying out the work of which I have told you. I have explained that man's ego works upon his astral, etheric, and physical bodies. But he can only begin this work gradually. As a child needs teachers, so when man was already prepared to become an ego-bearer, he needed a stimulus on earth to enable him to advance, and there were two “stimulators.” You can think whence, from the whole cosmic evolution, they came.
The beings who stood nearest to man were the Venus and Mercury beings. Until, at the end of the Atlantean Age, man could make the first feeble efforts to work independently with his ego upon the three bodies — for that was just possible at the end of the Atlantean Age — he had to have teachers. These teachers were beings of Venus and Mercury, and they went on working far beyond the Age of Atlantis. But they are not to be looked on as we look on our present teachers; the Venus beings must rather be thought of as those who endowed man with his intellectuality. Men knew nothing at all of this; just as the different human fluids work upon man, so did the forces of these beings influence him until he could work upon his bodies independently. What we find in man today as intelligence was mediated to him through the spirits who remained behind on Venus as Fire-Spirits of a lesser order. In addition to these were other teachers, and they were in fact perceived consciously as teachers by men who attained clairvoyance — the teachers of the great Mysteries of ancient times. In the far past there was not only that all-embracing influence of the Venus-Spirits who worked more or less on mankind as a whole, there were also Mystery centers, where the most advanced human beings received instruction spiritually from the Fire-Spirits. The exalted Fire-Spirits of Mercury instructed in the Mysteries; there they appeared — if we may say so — in a spiritual embodiment and were the teachers of the first initiates. Just as the first initiates became the teachers of the great masses of mankind, so did the beings of Mercury work as the teachers of the first initiates. From this you may realize that the beings of other stars have an influence upon man, but the very complicated nature of this influence can be seen from the following.
You remember that in my book Theosophy we roughly divide the human being by saying that he consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body, ego, spirit-self, life-spirit, spirit-man. The more correct division, as you know, is physical, etheric, astral bodies, then the three soul-forces in which the ego emerges — sentient soul, intellectual or mind soul, consciousness soul — and that only then we have spirit-self or Manas, life-spirit or Buddhi, spirit-man or Atman. Thus the soul-element is inserted as sentient soul, intellectual soul, consciousness soul. If we follow man's evolution on the Earth we can say that to the three constituents brought over from the Moon, the first development to be added was the sentient soul, then arose the intellectual soul, and not till toward the end of Atlantean times, when man learnt for the first time to say “I” to himself, did the consciousness-soul arise. Since then man can begin to work consciously from within upon the members of his being. If we divide man thus into body, soul, spirit, then we have to divide the soul again into sentient soul, intellectual soul, consciousness soul. These evolved gradually, and the consciousness soul could as yet have no influence, for it arose only as the last. These members had therefore to be kindled from without, and beings from outside were active. Mars in fact worked on the sentient soul, the already-separated Mercury with its beings worked on the origin of the intellectual soul, and Jupiter, which had been in existence the longest, worked on the origin of the consciousness soul.
Thus in the soul-nature of man we have the working of the three cosmic bodies, of Mars in the sentient soul, Mercury in the intellectual soul, Jupiter in the consciousness soul, and inasmuch as spirit-self presses into the consciousness soul, Venus with its beings is active. Mercury was also active with regard to the first initiates, so that the Mercury beings exercised a twofold activity, the one quite unconscious to man inasmuch as they developed his intellectual soul, and then as well they were the first teachers of the initiates when they worked in a fully conscious way. The Mercury beings had thus a continuous double activity, rather as many country schoolmasters instruct the children and cultivate the land allotted to them. The Mercury beings had to develop the intellectual soul, and besides that had to be the great schoolmasters of the great initiates. All these things can also be grasped by pure logic.
Now you can perhaps ask why should just Jupiter work on the consciousness soul, since it is such a distant planet. But these things are not investigated on logical grounds, but by investigating the facts of the spiritual worlds. There you would perceive it as a fact that the consciousness soul is kindled by Jupiter beings, to whose help come, on the other hand, laggard Venus beings. Things cannot be fitted into an external scheme in the activity of the cosmos; one must realize that when a planet has already fulfilled a task, its beings can later fulfill another task as well. In the course of the second race of humanity, Jupiter beings cooperated on the perfecting of the etheric body; then they themselves advanced a stage, and when the human being was far enough on for his consciousness soul to develop, they had to intervene again and help in its development. What is working in space enters into joint activity in the most varied ways; one cannot pass from one activity to another in any sort of schematic way.

So you see how the physicist when he looks out into the universe sees only the external bodies of spiritual organisms, and how spiritual science leads us to the spiritual foundations which bring about what the physicist sees. We have not been giving ourselves up to the illusion of the man who takes the little ball of oil and forgets that he himself turns it. We have sought for the beings who themselves drew out the globes of the planets which we perceive. We have not fallen into the illusion of thinking that if we are not there, the whole thing does not go on revolving. We have sought the “revolver,” the one who stands behind as the actual spiritually active being — so that one can always find full accord between what is said by Spiritual Science and discovered by official science. Only you can never derive what Spiritual Science says from the facts of science. You would then at most come to an analogy. If on the other hand the spiritual facts have been found by occult means, then, if you disregard what official science has yet to find, they will every time be in accord with what the physicist too has to say. So the theosophist can support the physicist. He knows very well that an occurrence in the physical realm may be just what the physicist describes, but in addition there is always the spiritual process. This does not prevent many scientists from feeling very superior and considering the theosophist a poor simpleton, or something worse. But the theosophist can look on quite calmly. It will be quite different in fifty years' time, for the continuation of merely materialistic science would do great harm to the health and well-being of mankind if things were to remain as they are today, and if spiritual science were not to combat them.

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