Theosophy of the Rosicrucian
VIII. Human Consciousness in the Seven Planetary Conditions
1 June 1907, Munich
We will now consider the series of incarnations passed through by our planet, and realise that these were embodiments, that is to say, conditions of our Earth when it was once Saturn, Sun, Moon. We must be fully aware that these incarnations were necessary for the development of every living thing, especially of man, and that man's own evolution is intimately connected with the Earth.
We shall, however, only understand in the right way what took place then, if we realise how the man of today — we ourselves — has changed in respect of certain characteristics in the course of evolution. And first we will consider the changes which have come about in man's conditions of consciousness. Everything in the world has evolved, even our consciousness. The consciousness that a man has today he has not always possessed, it has only gradually become what it is now.
We call our present consciousness the objective consciousness or the waking day-consciousness. You all know it as that which you have from morning when you awake, to evening when you fall asleep. Let us be clear as to its nature. It consists in man's turning his senses towards the outer world and perceiving objects-and hence we call it objective consciousness.
Man looks into the surroundings and sees with his eyes certain objects in space which are bounded by colours. He listens with the ear and perceives that there are objects in space which produce a tone, which resound. With his sense of touch he feels objects, finds them warm and cold, he Smells, tastes objects. What he thus perceives with his senses he reflects upon; he employs his reason to understand these different objects, and it is from these facts of sense perception and their comprehension in the mind that the present waking day consciousness has arisen. Man has not always had this consciousness, it had first to develop, and he will not always have it as it is, but will ascend to higher stages. Now with the means supplied by occult science we can survey seven states of consciousness of which our present consciousness is the middle one: we can survey three preceding ones and three following after.
Many will wonder why we are just standing so nicely in the centre. This comes from the fact that other stages, preceding the first, are beyond our sight, others follow the seventh which are again beyond our sight. We see just far behind us as we do in front; if we took one step back, we should see one more behind us and one fewer before us-just as when you go into the fields you can see as far to the left as to the right.
These seven states of consciousness are the following: At first a very dull deep condition of consciousness which humanity hardly knows today. Only persons with a special mediumistic tendency can still have this consciousness today which once upon Saturn was possessed by all men. Mediumistic persons can come into such a consciousness, which is known to the modern psychologist. All the other states of consciousness have been deadened in them and they appear practically lifeless. But then, if from memory or even in this condition they sketch or describe what they have experienced, they bring to light quite extraordinary experiences, which do not take place around us. They make all sorts of drawings which, although they are grotesque and distorted, yet agree with what we call in theosophy cosmic conditions. They are often entirely incorrect, but nevertheless they have something by which we can recognise that such people during this lowered condition have a dull but a universal consciousness; they see cosmic bodies and therefore their sketches are of that nature.
A consciousness that is dull like this but in compensation represents a universal knowledge in our cosmos, was once possessed by man on the first incarnation of our Earth, and is called “deep trance consciousness.” There are beings in our surroundings who still have such a consciousness — the minerals. If you could talk with them, they would tell you what goes on in Saturn — but this consciousness is entirely dull and insensible.
The second condition of consciousness which we know, or much rather, do not know, since we are then asleep, is that of ordinary sleep. This condition is not so comprehensive, but in spite of its still being very dull, it is clear in comparison with the first. This “sleep-consciousness” was once the permanent state of all human beings when the Earth was “Sun”; at that time the human ancestor was in a continuous sleep.
Even today this state of consciousness still exists; the plants have it, they are beings who uninterruptedly sleep, and if they could speak they could tell us how things are on the Sun, for they have Sun-consciousness.
The third condition, which is still dim and dull in relation to our day-consciousness, is that of “picture-consciousness”, and of this we have a clear idea since we experience an echo of it in our dream-filled sleep, though it is but a reminiscence of what on the Moon was the consciousness of all human beings. It will be well to start from the dream in order to get a picture of the Moon-consciousness.
In the dream-life we find indeed something confusing, chaotic, but on closer observation this confusion nevertheless displays an inner law. The dream is a remarkable symbolist. In my lectures I have often brought forward the following examples, which are all taken from life. You dream that you are running after a tree-frog to catch it, you feel the soft, smooth body; you wake up and have the corner of the sheet in your hand. Had you used your waking consciousness you would have seen how your hand was holding the bed-cover. The dream-consciousness gives you a symbol of the external act, it forms a symbol out of what our day-consciousness sees as a fact.
Another example: a student dreams that he is standing at the door in the lecture hall. There he is roughly jostled, and from this ensues a challenge. He now experiences every detail, until, accompanied by his second and a doctor, he goes to the duel, and the first shot is fired. At this moment he wakes up, and sees that he has overturned the chair at his bedside. In waking consciousness he would simply have heard the fall; the dream symbolises this prosaic event through the drama of the duel. And you see too, that the conditions of time are quite changed, for the whole drama flashed through his mind in the single instant in which the chair fell. The entire preparation took place in one moment, the dream has reversed time, it does not conform to the circumstances of the ordinary world, it is a creator in time.
Not only can external events be symbolised in this way, but also inner processes of the body. A man dreams he is in an air hole of a cellar, obnoxious spiders creep about him; he wakes up and feels a headache; the skull has taken on the symbol of the cellar hole, the pain, that of the hideous spiders!
The dream of the present-day man symbolises events which are both external and within. But it was not so when this third state of consciousness was that of the Moon humanity. At that time man lived entirely in such pictures as he has in the modern dream, but they expressed realities. They signified precisely such a reality as today the blue colour signifies a reality, only at that time colour hovered freely in space, it was not resting upon the objects. In that former consciousness man could not have set out on the street, as today, have seen a man in the distance, looked at him, approached him; for forms of beings with a coloured surface could not have been perceived at that time by man, quite apart from the fact that he could not then walk as he does today. But let us suppose that one man on the Moon had met another, then a freely hovering picture of form and colour would have risen up before him. Let us say, an ugly one, then the man would have turned aside in order not to meet it; or a beautiful one, then he would have drawn near it. The ugly colour-picture would have shown him that the other had an unsympathetic feeling towards him, the beautiful, that the other liked him.
Let us suppose there had been salt on the Moon; when salt stands on the table today, you see it as it is in space, as object, granular, with definite colouring. At that time it would not have been so. On the Moon you would not have been able to see the salt. But from the place where the salt would be, a picture of colour and form would have proceeded, floating free; and this picture would have shown you that the salt was something useful. Thus the whole consciousness was filled with pictures, with floating colours and forms. In an ocean of such form and colour pictures the human being lived; but the pictures of colour and form denoted what was going on around him, above all, things of a soul character and those which affected the soul nature — what was advantageous to it or harmful. In this way the human being orientated himself rightly with regard to the things around him. When the Moon passed over into the Earth incarnation this consciousness changed into our day-consciousness, and only a relic of it has remained in the dream as one has it now — a rudiment, as there are rudiments of other things. You know, for instance, that there are certain muscles near the ear which nowadays seem purposeless. Earlier they had their significance; they served to move the ears at will; there are very few persons who can do this today.
So conditions are to be found in man which have remained as a last relic of a former significance. Although these pictures no longer have a meaning, at that time they signified the outer world. Even today you still have this consciousness among all those animals — note this carefully — which cannot utter sounds from their inner being. There is in fact a far truer division of animals in occultism than in external Nature Science, namely in to those which can utter sounds from within and those which are dumb. It is true that you can find among certain lower creatures the power of producing sounds, but then this happens in a mechanical way, through friction, etc., not from their inner being. Even the frogs do not create sounds so. Only the higher animals, which arose at the time when the human being could express his suffering and joy in tones, only these, together with man, have gained the power of bringing to expression their pain and pleasure through sounds and cries. All animals which do not utter sounds from within still have such a picture-consciousness. It is not a fact that lower animals see the pictures in such outlines as we do. If some lower animal, the crab, for example, perceives a picture that makes a distinctly unpleasant impression, it gets out of the way, it does not see the objects, but sees the harmfulness in a repelling picture.
The fourth state of consciousness is that which all men now have. The pictures which man formerly perceived as colour pictures floating freely in space, wrap themselves, so to speak, round the objects. One might say they are laid over them, they form the surface and seem to be upon the objects, whereas formerly they seemed to float in freedom. In consequence, they have become the expression of the form; what man earlier had within himself has come out and fastened itself on the objects and through this he has come to his present waking day-consciousness.
We will now consider something else. We have already said that man's physical body was prepared on Saturn; on the Sun was added the Etheric or Life-body, which interpenetrated and worked on it. It took what the physical body had already become by itself, and worked on it further. On the Moon was added the Astral-body; this still further altered the form of the body. On Saturn the physical body was very simple, on the Sun it was much more complicated, for then the etheric body worked on it and made it more perfect. On the Moon the Astral body was added, and on the Earth the Ego, which brought it to a still greater completion. At the time when the physical body existed on Saturn, when as yet no etheric body had interpenetrated it, all the organs it contains today were not yet within, for it lacked blood and nerves, nor had it as yet any glands. The human being at that time had merely the organs-and these only in their rudiments-which today are the most perfect, and which have had time to arrive at their present perfection, namely, the marvelously constructed sense organs.
The wonderful construction of the human eye, the wonderful apparatus of the human ear, all this has only attained its perfection today because it was formed out of the general substance of Saturn, and the etheric body, astral body and ego have worked on it. So too the larynx; it was already laid down on Saturn, but man could not as yet speak. On the Moon he began to send out inarticulate tones and cries, but only through the continuous activity described, the larynx became the perfected apparatus it is on the Earth today. On the Sun, where the etheric body was inserted, the sense organs were further elaborated and all those organs were added which are primarily organs of secretion and life, which discharge functions of nutrition and growth. They were first laid down during the Sun stage of existence. Then the astral body worked further during the Moon existence, the Ego during the Earth existence and thus the glands, the organs of growth and so on have matured to their present perfection. Then on the Moon the nervous system originated through the incorporation of the astral body. The principle, however, which enabled the human being to evolve an objective consciousness and at the same time gave him the power to sound forth his pleasure and pain from within — the ego — this formed in man his blood.
Thus the whole universe is the builder of the sense organs. Thus have all the glands, organs of reproduction and nutrition been formed by the life-body; thus the astral body is the builder of the nervous system and the ego the incorporator of the blood. There is a phenomenon described as “chlorosis” — anæmia or green-sickness. There the blood comes into a state where it cannot sustain the waking consciousness; such persons often lapse into a dim consciousness like that on the Moon.
Now let us consider the three states of consciousness which are still to come. One can ask how it is possible to know something about them already. It can be done through Initiation. The initiate can have these states of consciousness even today in anticipation. The next known to the initiate is the so-called psychic, *[Later called by Dr. Steiner Imagination.] a consciousness in which one has both together, the picture-consciousness and the waking day-consciousness. With this psychic consciousness you see a man in outline and forms as in day-waking consciousness. But you see at the same time what lives in his soul, streaming out as coloured clouds and pictures into what we call the “Aura.” Nor do you go about the world in a dreamy state like the Moon-human being, but in complete self-control, as modern man of the waking consciousness. On the planet that replaces our Earth the whole of humanity will have this psychic or soul-consciousness, the Jupiter consciousness.
Then there is still a sixth state of consciousness which man will also one day possess. This will unite the present day-consciousness, the psychic consciousness only known to the initiate and in addition all that man sleeps away today. Man will look deep, deep into the nature of beings when he lives in this consciousness, the consciousness of Inspiration. He will not only perceive in pictures and forms of colour, he will hear the being of the other give forth sounds and tones. Each human individuality will have a certain note and the whole will sound together in a symphony. This will be the consciousness of man when our planet will have passed into the Venus condition. There he will experience the sphere-harmony which Goethe describes in his Prologue to Faust:
The Sun-orb sings, in emulation
Mid brother-spheres, his ancient round;
His path predestined through Creation
He ends with step of thunder-sound.
(Bayard Taylor's translation)
When the Earth was Sun the human being was aware in a dim way of this ringing and resounding, and on Venus he will again hear it ringing and resounding “auf alter Weise” (as of old). To this very phrase Goethe has retained the picture.
The seventh state of consciousness is the Spiritual consciousness,* [Since called Intuition] the very highest, when man has a universal consciousness, when he will see not only what proceeds on his own planet, but in the whole cosmos around him. It is the consciousness that the human being had on Saturn, a kind of universal consciousness, although then quite dim and dull. This he will have in addition to all the other states of consciousness when he will have reached Vulcan.
These are the seven states of human consciousness which man must go through in his journey through the cosmos. And each incarnation of the Earth produces the conditions through which such states of consciousness are possible. Only because the system of nerves was laid down on the Moon, and further developed to the present brain, has the modern waking day-consciousness been possible. Organs must be created by which the higher states of consciousness may also have a physical basis of experience, as the initiate already experiences these states spiritually.
That the human being can pass through seven such planetary conditions is the meaning of evolution. Each planetary stage is bound up with the development of one of the seven states of human consciousness, and through what takes place on each planet the physical organs for such a state of consciousness are perfected. You will have a more highly developed organ, a psychic organ, on Jupiter; on Venus there will be an organ through which man will be able to develop physically the consciousness possessed by the initiate today on the Devachanic plane. And on Vulcan the Spiritual consciousness will prevail, which the initiate possesses today when he is in Higher Devachan, the World of Reason.
To-morrow we will examine these planets separately, for, just as our Earth earlier, in the Atlantean and Lemurian Ages, for instance, had a different appearance from that of today, and as later it will again look different, so too have Moon, Sun and Saturn passed through various conditions, and so will Jupiter and Venus pass through still others.
We have learnt today the broad, comprehensive cycle of the planets, tomorrow we will occupy ourselves with the changes under one by these planets while they were the theatre of human evolution.