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The Michael Mystery
GA 26

XVI. What is seen on looking back into Man's repeated Earth-lives

When it is possible to look back with the suitable spiritual organs of knowledge into a man's previous earth-lives, observation shows a number of such earth-lives in which the man was already a ‘person.’ His exterior resembled that of the present day, and he had an inner life that bore an individual stamp. Earth-lives appear, which shew signs of the existence of the Intellectual or Mind-Soul, but not yet of the Spiritual Soul; others again, in which only the Sentient Soul is as yet developed and so on.

This was so in the ages of Earthly History, and has been so already for a long time before.

Pursuing the observation however, one comes back to ages in which it was not yet so. There one finds Man, both in respect of inner life and outer habit, still interwoven with the world of the divine spiritual beings. Man is there an earth-man, but not yet detached from divine spiritual being, thinking and willing.

In still earlier times, a detached and separate Man vanishes altogether from sight. There is nothing to be seen but divine Spirit-Beings, holding Man within their lap.

These three stages of his evolution, Man has gone through during his time on earth. The transition from the first to the second lies in the late Lemurian age, from the second to the third in the Atlantean age.

Just as, in his present earth-life, Man carries everything that has entered his life as a memory within him, so too he carries within him as cosmic memory everything which he has gone through in the manner above described. What is the soul-life on earth? It is the world of memories, open every moment to take in new perceptions. In this interplay of memory and new experience Man lives his inward earthly life.

But this inward earthly life could never come to expression, if there were not still existing at the present time in Man, as a cosmic memory, those things that one sees when one looks back in spirit to the first stage of his growth to earth-manhood, when he was not yet detached from the divine spirit-beings.

Of what then went on in the world, all that remains in living existence upon earth to-day is the process carried out in the human nerves-and-senses system. In external Nature, all the forces which were active in those times have died out, and are only to be seen in their dead forms.

Thus, in the thought-world of Man, there is living as present revelation something which, to have earthly existence, must have as its basis what had been evolved in Man before ever he attained to individual life on earth.

In the life between death and new birth, Man every time goes anew through this stage. Only, that into the world of divine Spirit-Beings—who now again receive him even as once they bore him within themselves—he now carries his own full individual entity, in the form it has acquired during his lives on earth. He is, between death and new birth, both in the present and at the same time in all the times through which he has traveled in recurring earth-lives and recurring lives between death and new birth.

It is otherwise with what lives in the human feeling-world. This feeling-world of Man is connected with experiences which followed immediately after those in which Man as such was not yet revealed—with those experiences namely which Man lived through as Man, indeed, but not yet detached from the divine-spiritual being, thinking, willing. There would be no world of feeling for Man to disclose at the present day, if the foundations from which it springs were not laid in his rhythmic system. In this rhythmic system we possess the cosmic recollection of the second stage of Man's evolution, described above.

Thus in Man's feeling-world there are working together his human soul-life of the present, and the after-effects of an olden time.

In the life between death and new birth, the time of which we are here speaking, with all that fills it, is known to Man as the bounds of his cosmos. What the starlit sky is to Man in his physical life, the same part is played for him spiritually in his life between death and new birth by his existence between his complete union with the divine Spirit-world and his detachment from it. There, shining at the ‘world's bourne’ he sees not the physical heavenly bodies, but in the place of each star the collective group of divine Spirit-Beings who are in reality the star.

And in connection with the will only—not with feeling nor thought—there lives on in Man whatever those earth-lives have to shew, which begin, on observation, to display Cosmos and gives Man his exterior form, remains reserved in this exterior form as a cosmic recollection. This cosmic recollection lives on as forces in the human form. These are not directly the forces of the will, but are that which gives in the human organization the groundwork for the will-forces.

This is a region of Man's being which lies outside the ‘world's bourne’ in his life between death and new birth. Man there conceives of it as of something that will again be part of his human existence in his new earth-life.

In his nerves-and-senses system, Man is to-day still bound up with the Cosmos in the same manner as he was when he shewed only as a first life-seed amid the divine-spiritual being.

In his rhythmic system, Man still lives to-day in the Cosmos as he lived when he already was Man, but not yet detached from divine-spiritual being.

In his metabolic and limb-system, the basis for the development of will, Man's life is such that he has working on in this system the after-effect of all that he has gone through in his personal, individual earth-lives, ever since these began, and also in the intervening lives between death and new birth.

From the forces of earth, Man has that alone which lends him the consciousness of Self. The physical, bodily basis, too, of this Self-consciousness is an effect of the earth's action. Everything else in the human being is extraterrestrial and cosmic in its origin. The astral body as conveyer of sensation and thought, together with its etheric and physical basis—all the life-stir of the ether-body, and even all that is working physically and chemically in the physical body—all this has its origin beyond the earth. Strange as it may seem, the physical and chemical action which takes place within Man is not derived from the earth.

That Man develops this extra-earthly, cosmic life within him, is the work of the planets and the other stars. What he develops in him by their aid, is carried by the Sun and its forces to the Earth. The Human-Cosmic is by the Sun transplanted to earthly territory. By virtue of the Sun, Man lives as heavenly being upon Earth. That property only, whereby Man exceeds the limits of his human form—the capacity to bring forth his kind—is a gift of the Moon.

Of course these are not the only effects of the Sun's and the Moon's action; highly spiritual effects proceed from them also.

When the Sun about Christmas-time begins to gain increasing power for the Earth, this is its action in the physical earthly sphere, exhibited rhythmically in the cycle of the year; it is an expression of the spirit in Nature. The evolution of mankind is one unique part in a so-to-speak gigantic world-year. In this world-year it is World-Christmas or ‘Holy Night’ when the Sun does not merely act on the Earth through the spirit of Nature, but when the soul of the Sun, the Christ Spirit, comes down from above into the Earth.

As in each single man, that which he realizes individually in his own life is connected with a cosmic memory, so will the yearly Christmas be felt in its truth by the human soul, if the cosmic and heavenly Christ-Event is thought of as working on continually—conceived not merely as a human but as a cosmic recollection. Not Man alone at Christmas-time celebrates in remembrance the Descent of the Christ, but the Cosmos also.

Leading Thoughts

On looking back into a man's repeated earth-lives, they may be distinguished into three different stages: First a very early one, in which Man is not yet existent as an individual form of being, but as a life-seed amid divine spiritual being. Looking back into this stage, one finds not as yet a Man, but only divine Spirit-Beings (the Principalities or Primeval Powers, the Archai.)

Following on this comes a middle stage in which Man is already discernible as an individual form of being, but not yet detached from the thinking and willing and being of the divine-spiritual world. He has not yet, as that time, his present personality, which is involved with his appearance on earth as an entirely distinctive being, detached from the divine spiritual world.

The third stage is the present one. Man realizes himself, as he stands forth in his own human form, detached from the divine spiritual world; and he realizes the world as an environment over against which he takes his place as an individual personality. This stage began in Atlantean times.