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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Cosmic Memory
GA 11

vi. The Division into Sexes

Much as the human form in those ancient times described in the preceding chapters differed from the form of present-day man, one comes to conditions still more dissimilar if one goes even further back in the history of mankind. For only in the course of time did the forms of man and woman develop from an older, basic form in which human beings were neither the one nor the other, but rather were both at once. He who wants to form an idea of these enormously distant periods of the past must however liberate himself completely from the habitual conceptions taken from what man sees around him.

The times into which we now look back lie somewhat before the middle of the epoch which in the preceding passages was designated as the Lemurian. At that time the human body still consisted of soft and malleable materials. The other forms of earth also were still soft and malleable. As opposed to its later hardened condition, earth was still in a welling, more fluid one. As the human soul at that time embodied itself in matter, it could adapt this matter to itself in a much greater degree than later. That the soul takes on a male or a female body is due to the fact that the development of external terrestrial nature forces the one or the other upon it. While the material substances had not yet become rigid, the soul could force these substances to obey its own laws. It made of the body an impression of its own nature. But when [it] became denser the soul had to submit to the laws impressed upon this matter by external terrestrial nature. As long as the soul could still control matter, it formed its body as neither male nor female, but, instead gave it qualities which embraced both at the same time. For the soul is simultaneously male and female. It carries these two natures in itself. Its male element is related to what is called will, its female element to what is called imagination.

The external formation of earth resulted in that the body assumed a one-sided form. The male body has taken a form which is conditioned by the element of will; the female body on the other hand, bears the stamp of imagination. Thus it comes about that the two-sexed, male-female soul inhabits a single-sexed, male or female body. In the course of development the body had taken a form determined by the external terrestrial forces, so that it was no longer possible for the soul to pour its whole inner energy into this body. The soul had to retain something of this energy within itself and could let only a part of it flow into the body.

If one continues with the Akasha Chronicle, the following becomes apparent. In an ancient period, human forms appear before us which are soft, malleable and quite different from later ones. They still carry the nature of man and woman within themselves to an equal degree. In the course of time, the material substances become denser; the human body appears in two forms, one of which begins to resemble the subsequent shape of man, the other that of woman. When this difference had not yet appeared, every human being could produce another human being out of himself. Impregnation was not an external process, but was something which took, place inside the human body itself. By becoming male or female, the body lost this possibility of self-impregnation. It had to act together with another body in order to produce a new human being.

The division into sexes takes place when the earth enters a certain stage of its densification. The density of matter inhibits a portion of the force of reproduction. That portion of this force which is still active needs an external complementation through the opposite force of another human being. The soul however must retain a portion of its earlier energy within itself, in man as well as in woman. It cannot use this portion in the physical external world.

This portion of energy is now directed toward the interior of man. It cannot emerge toward the exterior; therefore it is freed for inner organs.

Here an important point in the development of mankind appears. Previously that which is called spirit, the faculty of thought, could not find a place in man. For this faculty would have found no organs for exercising its functions. The soul had employed all its energy toward the exterior, in order to build up the body. But now the energy of the soul, which finds no external employment, can become associated with the spiritual energy, and through this association those organs are developed in the body which later make of man a thinking being. Thus man could use a portion of the energy which previously he employed for the production of beings like himself, in order to perfect his own nature. The force by which mankind forms a thinking brain for itself is the same by which man impregnated himself in ancient times. The price of thought is single-sexedness. By no longer impregnating themselves, but rather by impregnating each other, human beings can turn a part of their productive energy within, and so become thinking creatures. Thus the male and the female body each represent an imperfect external embodiment of the soul, but thereby they become more perfect inwardly.

This transformation of man takes place very slowly and gradually. Little by little, the younger, single-sexed male or female forms appear beside the old double-sexed ones.

It is again a kind of fertilization which takes place in man when he becomes a creature endowed with spirit. The inner organs which can be built up by the surplus soul energy are fructified by the spirit. In itself the soul is two-sided: male-female. In ancient times it also formed its body on this basis. Later it can form its body only in such a way that for the external it acts together with another body; thereby the soul itself receives the capacity to act together with the spirit. For the external, man is henceforward fertilized from the outside, for the internal, from the inside, through the spirit. One can say that the male body now has a female soul, the female body a male soul. This inner one-sidedness of man is compensated by fertilization through the spirit. The one-sidedness is abolished. Both the male soul in the female body and the female soul in the male body again become double-sexed through fructification by the spirit. Thus man and woman are different in their external form; internally their spiritual one-sidedness is rounded out to a harmonious whole. Internally, spirit and soul are fused into one unit. Upon the male soul in woman the action of the spirit is female, and thus renders it male-female; upon the female soul in man the action of the spirit is male, and thus renders it male-female also. The double-sexedness of man has retired from the external world where it existed in the pre-Lemurian period, into his interior.

One can see that the higher inner essence of a human being has nothing to do with man or woman. The inner equality, however, does result from a male soul in woman, and correspondingly from a female soul in man. The union with the spirit finally brings about the equality; but the fact that before the establishment of this equality there exists a difference involves a secret of human nature. The understanding of this secret is of great significance for all mystery science. It is the key to important enigmas of life. For the present we are not permitted to lift the veil which is spread over this secret . . .

Thus physical man has developed from double-sexedness to single-sexedness, to the separation into male and female. In this way man has become a spiritual being of the kind which he is now. But one must not suppose that no beings which possessed cognition had been in contact with the earth before then. When one follows the Akasha Chronicle it does indeed appear that in the first Lemurian period, later physical man, because of his double sex, was a totally different being from that which one today designates as man. He could not connect any sensory perceptions with thoughts; he did not think. His life was one of impulses. His soul expressed itself only in instincts, in appetites, in animal desires and so on. His consciousness was dreamlike; he lived in dullness.

But there were other beings among these men. These of course were also double-sexed. For at the stage of terrestrial development of that time no male or female human body could be produced. The external conditions did not yet exist for this. But there were other beings which could acquire knowledge and wisdom in spite of their double-sexedness. This was possible because they had gone through a quite different development in a still more remote past. It was possible for their soul to be fructified by the spirit without first awaiting the development of the inner organs of the physical body of man. By means of the physical brain, the soul of contemporary man can think only that which it receives from the outside through the physical senses. This is the condition to which the development of man's soul has led. The human soul had to wait until a brain existed which became the mediator with the spirit. Without this detour, this soul would have remained spiritless. It would have remained arrested at the stage of dreamlike consciousness. This was different among the superhuman beings mentioned above. In previous stages their soul had developed organs which needed nothing physical in order to enter into contact with the spirit. Their knowledge and wisdom were supersensibly acquired. Such knowledge is called intuitive. Contemporary man attains such intuition only at a later stage of his development; this intuition makes it possible for him to enter into contact with the spirit without sensory mediation. He must make a detour through the world of sensory substance. This detour is called the descent of the human soul into matter, or popularly, “the fall of man.”

Because of a different earlier development, the superhuman beings did not have to take part in this descent. Since their soul had already attained a higher stage, their consciousness was not dreamlike, but inwardly clear. Their acquisition of knowledge and wisdom was a clairvoyance which had no need of senses or of an organ of thought. The wisdom according to which the world is built shone into their soul directly. Therefore they could become the leaders of youthful humanity which was still sunk in dullness. They were the bearers of a “primeval wisdom,” toward the understanding of which mankind is only now struggling along the detour mentioned above. They differed from what one calls “man” through the fact that wisdom shone upon them as the sunlight does upon us, as a free gift “from above.” “Man” was in a different position. He had to acquire wisdom by the work of the senses and of the organ of thought. Originally it did not come to him as a free gift. He had to desire it. Only when the desire for wisdom lived in man, did he acquire it through his senses and his organ of thought. Thus a new impulse had to awaken in the soul: the desire, the longing for knowledge. In its earlier stages the human soul could not have had this longing. The impulses of the soul were directed only toward materialization in that which assumed form externally—in what took place in it as a dreamlike life—but not toward cognition of the external world, nor toward knowledge. It is with the division into sexes that the impulse toward knowledge first appears.

The superhuman beings received wisdom by way of clairvoyance just because they did not have this desire for it. They waited until wisdom shone into them, as we wait for the sunlight, which we cannot produce at night, but which must come to us by itself in the morning.

The longing for knowledge is produced by the fact that the soul develops inner organs, the brain and so forth, by means of which it gains possession of knowledge. This is a consequence of the circumstance that a part of the energy of the soul is no longer directed toward the outside, but toward the inside. The superhuman beings however, which have not carried out this separation of their spiritual forces, direct all the energy of their soul toward the outside. Therefore that force is also available to them externally for fructification by the spirit, which “man” turns inward for the development of the organs of cognition.

Now that force by means of which one human being turns toward the outside in order to act together with another is love. The superhuman beings directed all their love outward in order to let universal wisdom flow into their soul. “Man” however can only direct a part of it outward. “Man” became sensual, and thereby his love became sensual. He draws away from the outside world that part of his nature which he directs toward his inner development. And thus that arises which one calls selfishness. When he became man or woman in the physical body, “man” could surrender himself with only a part of his being; with the other part he separated himself from the world around him. He became selfish. And his action toward the outside became selfish; his striving after inner development also became selfish. He loved because he desired, and likewise he thought because he desired wisdom.

The selfless, all-loving natures, the leaders, the superhuman beings, confronted man, who was still childishly selfish.

The soul, which among these beings does not reside in a male or female body, is itself male-female. It loves without desire. Thus the innocent soul of man loved before the division into sexes, but at that time it could not understand, because it was still at an inferior stage, that of dream consciousness. The soul of the superhuman beings also loves in this manner, however, with understanding because of its advanced development. “Man” must pass through selfishness in order to attain selflessness again at a higher stage, where, however, it will be combined with completely clear consciousness.

The task of the superhuman natures, of the great leaders, was that they impressed upon youthful man their own character, that of love. They could do this only for that part of the spiritual energy which was directed outward. Thus sensual love was produced. It is therefore a consequence of the activity of the soul in a male or female body. Sensual love became the force of physical human development. This love brings man and woman together insofar as they are physical beings. Upon this love rests the progress of physical humanity.

It was only over this love that the superhuman natures had power. That part of human soul energy which is directed inward and is to bring about cognition by the detour through the senses—that part is withdrawn from the power of those superhuman beings. However, they themselves had never descended to the development of corresponding inner organs. They could clothe the impulse toward the external in love, because love acting toward the external was part of their own nature. Because of this, a gulf opened between them and youthful mankind. Love, at first in sensual form, they could plant in man; knowledge they could not give, for their own knowledge had never made the detour through the inner organs which man was now developing. They could speak no language which a creature with a brain could have understood.

The inner organs of man mentioned above first became ripe for a contact with the spirit only at that stage of terrestrial existence which lies in the middle of the Lemurian period; but they had already been formed incompletely, at a much earlier stage of development. For the soul had already gone through physical embodiments in preceding times. It had lived in dense substance, not on earth but on other celestial bodies. Details about this must be given later. At present we shall say only that the terrestrial beings previously lived on another planet, where, in accordance with the prevailing conditions, they developed up to the point at which they were when they arrived on earth. They put off the substances of this preceding planet like clothing and, at the level of development which they thus attained, became pure soul germs with the capacity to perceive, to feel and so forth—in short, to lead that dreamlike life which remained peculiar to them in the first stages of their terrestrial existence.

The superhuman entities previously mentioned, the leaders in the field of love, had already been so perfect on the preceding planet that they did not have to descend to develop the rudiments of those inner organs.

But there were other beings, not as far advanced as these leaders of love, who on the preceding planet were still numbered among “men,” but at that period were hurrying ahead of men. Thus, at the beginning of the formation of the earth, they were further advanced than men, but still were at the stage where knowledge must be acquired through inner organs. These beings were in a special position. They were too far advanced to pass through the physical human body, male or female, but on the other hand, were not so far advanced that they could act through full clairvoyance like the leaders of love. They could not yet be beings of love; they could no longer be “men.” Thus they could only continue their own development as half superhuman beings, in which they were aided by men. They could speak to creatures with a brain in a language which the latter could understand. Thereby the human soul energy which was turned inward was stimulated, and could connect itself with knowledge and wisdom. It was thus that wisdom of a human kind first appeared on earth. The “half superhuman beings” mentioned above could use this human wisdom in order to achieve for themselves that of perfection which they still lacked. In this manner they became the stimulators of human wisdom. One therefore calls them bringers of light (Lucifer). Youthful mankind thus had two kinds of leaders: beings of love and beings of wisdom. Human nature was balanced between love and wisdom when it assumed its present form on this earth. By the beings of love it was stimulated to physical development, by the beings of wisdom to the perfection of the inner nature. As a consequence of physical development, humanity advances from generation to generation, forms new tribes and races; through inner development individuals grow toward inner perfection, become knowing and wise men, artists, technicians etc. Physical mankind strides from race to race; each race hands down its sensorily perceptible qualities to the following one through physical development. Here the law of heredity holds sway. The children carry within themselves the physical characteristics of the fathers. Beyond this lies a process of spiritual-soul perfection which can only take place through the development of the soul itself.

With this we stand before the law of the development of the soul within terrestrial existence. This development is connected with the law and mystery of birth and death.