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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Cosmic Memory
GA 11

ii. From the Akasha Chronicle (Preface)

By means of ordinary history man can learn only a small part of what humanity experienced in prehistory. Historical documents shed light on but a few millennia. What archaeology, paleontology, and geology can teach us is very limited. Furthermore, everything built on external evidence is unreliable. One need only consider how the picture of an event or people, not so very remote from us, has changed when new historical evidence has been discovered. One need but compare the descriptions of one and the same thing as given by different historians, and he will soon realize on what uncertain ground he stands in these matters. Everything belonging to the external world of the senses is subject to time. In addition, time destroys what has originated in time. On the other hand, external history is dependent on what has been preserved in time. Nobody can say that the essential has been preserved, if he remains content with external evidence.

Everything which comes into being in time has its origin in the eternal. But the eternal is not accessible to sensory perception. Nevertheless, the ways to the perception of the eternal are open for man. He can develop forces dormant in him so that he can recognize the eternal. In the essays, Wie erlangt man Erkenntnisse der hoheren Welten? (How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?), which appear in this periodical,1 this development is referred to. These essays were published in book form, Berlin, 1909., this development is referred to. These present essays will also show that at a certain high level of his cognitive power, man can penetrate to the eternal origins of the things which vanish with time. A man broadens his power of cognition in this way if he is no longer limited to external evidence where knowledge of the past is concerned. Then he can see in events what is not perceptible to the senses, that part which time cannot destroy. He penetrates from transitory to non-transitory history. It is a fact that this history is written in other characters than is ordinary history. In gnosis and in theosophy it is called the “Akasha Chronicle.” Only a faint conception of this chronicle can be given in our language. For our language corresponds to the world of the senses. That which is described by our language at once receives the character of this sense world. To the uninitiated, who cannot yet convince himself of the reality of a separate spiritual world through his own experience, the initiate easily appears to be a visionary, if not something worse.

The one who has acquired the ability to perceive in the spiritual world comes to know past events in their eternal character. They do not stand before him like the dead testimony of history, but appear in full life. In a certain sense, what has happened takes place before him.

Those initiated into the reading of such a living script can look back into a much more remote past than is represented by external history; and—on the basis of direct spiritual perception—they can also describe much more dependably the things of which history tells. In order to avoid possible misunderstanding, it should be said that spiritual perception is not infallible. This perception also can err, can see in an inexact, oblique, wrong manner. No man is free from error in this field, no matter how high he stands. Therefore one should not object when communications emanating from such spiritual sources do not always entirely correspond. But the dependability of observation is much greater here than in the external world of the senses. What various initiates can relate about history and prehistory will be in essential agreement. Such a history and prehistory does in fact exist in all mystery schools. Here for millennia the agreement has been so complete that the conformity existing among external historians of even a single century cannot be compared with it. The initiates describe essentially the same things at all times and in all places.

Following this introduction, several chapters from the Akasha Chronicle will be given. First, those events will be described which took place when the so-called Atlantean Continent still existed between America and Europe. This part of our earth's surface was once land. Today this forms the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Plato tells of the last remnant of this land, the island Poseidon, which lay westward of Europe and Africa. In The Story of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria, by W. Scott-Elliot, the reader can find that the floor of the Atlantic Ocean was once a continent, that for about a million years it was the scene of a civilization which, to be sure, was quite different from our modern ones, and the fact that the last remnants of this continent sank in the tenth millennium B.C. In this present book the intention is to give information which will supplement what is said by Scott-Elliott. While he describes more the outer, the external events among our Atlantean ancestors, the aim here is to record some details concerning their spiritual character and the inner nature of the conditions under which they lived. Therefore the reader must go back in imagination to a period which lies almost ten thousand years behind us, and which lasted for many millennia. What is described here however, did not take place only on the continent now covered by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, but also in the neighboring regions of what today is Asia, Africa, Europe, and America. What took place in these regions later, developed from this earlier civilizations.

Today I am still obliged to remain silent about the sources of the information given here. One who knows anything at all about such sources will understand why this has to be so. But events can occur which will make a breaking of this silence possible very soon. How much of the knowledge hidden within the theosophical movement may gradually be communicated, depends entirely on the attitude of our contemporaries.

Now follows the first of the writings which can be given here.