It is possible to follow the progress of mankind from the point of view of man himself, from the stage of consciousness in which he felt himself as a member of the Divine-Spiritual order, up to the present time, when he is conscious of himself as an individual, freed from the Divine-Spiritual, and able to think for himself. In our last study this point of view was taken.
But it is also possible, through supersensible vision, to make a picture of what Michael and those who belong to him experience during this evolutionary process — i.e. to describe the facts of it as they appear to Michael himself. This shall now be attempted.
There is an earliest epoch in evolution, where it is only possible to speak of what takes place among Divine-Spiritual Beings. Here one has to deal with the actions of the Gods alone. Gods fulfil what the impulses of their natures inspire, and are satisfied in this their activity. What they themselves experience in all this is alone important. But in one corner of this field of the Gods' activity, something resembling mankind is to be observed, as forming a part of their divine activity.
The spiritual Being who from the beginning directed his gaze towards mankind is Michael. He so orders the divine activities that in one part of the Cosmos mankind may exist. And his own activity is of the same nature as that which is revealed later in man as intellect; but this intellect is active as a force that streams through the Cosmos, ordering ideas and giving rise to actual realities. In this force Michael works. His office is to rule the cosmic intellectuality. And he wills the further progress in his domain, which consists in this: — that that which works as intelligence throughout the whole Cosmos should later become concentrated within the human individuality. As a result the following takes place: — there comes a time in the evolution of the world when the Cosmos subsists no longer on its own present intelligence, but on the cosmic intelligence belonging to the past. For the present intelligence must then be sought in the stream of human evolution.
What Michael desires is to keep the intelligence, which is developing within humanity, permanently in connection with the Divine-Spiritual Beings.
But in this he is meeting with opposition. What the Gods accomplish in their evolution, in that they release the cosmic intellectuality so that it may become a part of human nature, stands revealed as a fact within the world. If there are beings with power to perceive this fact, then they can take advantage of it. And such beings do indeed exist. They are the Ahrimanic beings. It is their nature to absorb into themselves all that comes forth from the Gods as intelligence. They have the capacity to unite with their own being the sum-total of all intellectuality, and thus they become the greatest, the most comprehensive and penetrating intelligences in the Cosmos.
Michael foresees how man, in progressing more and more towards his own individual use of intelligence, must meet with these Ahrimanic beings, and how by uniting with them he may then succumb to them. For this reason Michael brings the Ahrimanic Powers under his feet; he continually thrusts them into a deeper region than the one in which man is evolving. Michael, thrusting the dragon at his feet into the abyss: that is the mighty picture which lives in human consciousness of the supersensible facts here described.
Evolution progresses. The intellectuality which was at first entirely in the sphere of divine spirituality, detaches itself so far that it becomes the element which ensouls the Cosmos. That which previously had only radiated from the Gods themselves now shines as the manifestation of the Divine from the world of the stars. Formerly the world had been guided by the Divine Being himself: it is now guided by the Divine manifestation which has become objective, and behind this manifestation the Divine Being passes through the next stage of his own development.
Michael is again the ruler of the cosmic intelligence, in so far as this streams through the manifestations of the Cosmos in the order of ideas.
The third phase of evolution is a further separation of the cosmic intelligence from its origin. In the worlds of the stars the present order of ideas no longer holds sway as the Divine manifestation; the stars move and are regulated according to the order of ideas implanted in them in the past. Michael sees how the cosmic intellectuality, which he has hitherto ruled in the Cosmos, proceeds on its way to earthly humanity.
But Michael also sees how the danger of humanity succumbing to the Ahrimanic Powers grows greater and greater. He knows that as regards himself he will always have Ahriman under his feet; but will it also be the case with man?
Michael sees the greatest event in the Earth's history taking place. From the kingdom served by Michael himself Christ descends to the sphere of the Earth, so as to be there when the intelligence is wholly with the human individuality. For man will then feel most strongly the impulse to devote himself to the power which has made itself fully and completely into the vehicle of intellectuality. But Christ will be there; through His great sacrifice He will live in the same sphere in which Ahriman also lives. Man will be able to choose between Christ and Ahriman. The world will be able to find the Christ-way in the evolution of humanity.
That is Michael's cosmic experience with that which he has to govern in the Cosmos. In order to remain with that which he has to govern, he enters upon the path that leads from the Cosmos to humanity. He has been on this path since the eighth century AD. but he really only took up his earthly office, into which his cosmic office has been changed, in the last third of the nineteenth century.
Michael cannot force human beings to do anything. For it is just through intelligence having come entirely into the sphere of the human individuality that compulsion has ceased. But in the supersensible world first bordering on this visible world, Michael can unfold as a majestic, exemplary action that which he wishes to display. He can show himself there with an aura of light, with the gesture of a Spirit Being, in which all the splendour and glory of the past intelligence of the Gods is revealed. He can there show how the action of this intelligence of the past is more true, more beautiful and more virtuous in the present than all that is contained in the immediate intelligence of the present day, which streams to us from Ahriman in deceptive, misleading splendour. He can point out how for him Ahriman will always be the lower spirit, under his feet.
Those persons who can see the supersensible world bordering next upon the visible world, perceive Michael and those belonging to him in the manner here described, engaged in what they would like to do for humanity. Such persons see how — through the picture of Michael in Ahriman's sphere — man is to be led in freedom away from Ahriman to Christ. When through their vision such persons also succeed in opening the hearts and minds of others, so that there is a circle of people who know how Michael is now living among men, humanity will then begin to celebrate Festivals of Michael which will possess the right contents, and at which souls will allow the power of Michael to revive in them. Michael will then work as a real power among men. Man will be free and yet proceed along his spiritual path of life through the Cosmos in intimate companionship with Christ.
109. To become truly conscious of the working of Michael in the spiritual order of the World, is to solve the riddle of human freedom in relation to the Cosmos, in so far as the solution is necessary for man on Earth.
110. For ‘Freedom’ as a fact is directly given to every human being who understands himself in the present period of mankind's evolution. No one can say, ‘Freedom is not,’ unless he wishes to deny a patent fact. But we can find a certain contradiction between this fact of our experience and the processes of the Cosmos. In contemplating the mission of Michael within the Cosmos this contradiction is dissolved.
111. In my Philosophy of Freedom (Philosophy of Spiritual Activity) the ‘Freedom’ of the human being in the present world-epoch is proved as an essential element of consciousness. In the descriptions here given of the Mission of Michael, the cosmic foundations of the ‘coming-into-being’ of this Freedom are disclosed.