The Gospel of St. John
IV. The Hierarchies of Our Solar System and the Kingdoms of the Earth
27 June 1909, Cassel
Our point of departure for yesterday's considerations was the fact that an altered state of consciousness is experienced by man in his everyday life, inasmuch as his physical and etheric bodies remain in bed, in the interval between falling asleep and awakening, while his astral body and Ego are away. At the same time we pointed out that the physical and etheric bodies as they remain in bed, could not subsist did not a divine spiritual astrality and a divine spiritual Ego enter the sleeper. Thus, these alternating conditions of everyday human life consist in the fact that in the evening, when he falls asleep, the human being quits his etheric and physical bodies, with his Ego and astral body; these are replaced by divine spiritual astral and Ego-beings which enter his physical and etheric bodies. During the day man himself fills and provides for his physical and etheric bodies, with his astral body and Ego. That was one of the facts which headed yesterday's considerations. The other fact was our increased knowledge resulting from a comprehensive survey of our whole human evolution through the former incarnations of our Earth — Saturn, Sun, and Moon. We also discussed certain details arising out of the general survey and found that with regard to the progress of our planet, a division occurred since the Moon evolution. Certain beings who required lower, inferior substances for their progress separated off, as it were, with the old Moon, while other beings of a higher, more spiritual nature, also detached themselves, as an older form of Sun evolution. We saw further how the two parts afterwards re-united, how they passed through a state of cosmic Devachan or Pralaya, and then reached Earth evolution proper. Here there was, to begin with, a repetition of the former separation of the Sun. For a time we have the Earth-plus-Moon as a coarser, denser body, and the Sun with its higher, sublimer beings, as a separate, finer body. We have seen that, had the Earth remained united with the lunar substances, it must have become a petrified, desert sphere, and all life upon it must have died out, or rather become mummified. Then came a time when the Moon, with all that it now harbours, was perforce ejected from Earth evolution. The immediate result was a rejuvenating process in the evolving human being.
We have seen that the sublime beings evolving on the Sun were unable to work upon the human substances and beings before the separation of the Moon; afterwards they were able to exercise a rejuvenating influence upon them, so that, strictly speaking, the evolution of the human race dates back from the separation of the Moon from the Earth. This separation of the Moon is a moment of the very greatest importance for the whole of evolution, and we shall examine it more closely today. Before doing so, however, let me draw attention to the manner in which the two starting-points of yesterday's considerations coincide.
Man, as we see him in everyday life, is a being consisting of a physical, an etheric, an astral body and an Ego. When we behold him asleep during the night, as he lies in bed as far as his physical and etheric bodies are concerned, we can, if gifted with clairvoyant consciousness, watch how higher beings enter into the physical and etheric bodies. Who are these beings? They are precisely those of whom we have said that their scene of activity is, generally speaking, on the Sun. There is nothing impossible in this. Unless someone imagines everything spiritual in physical form and applies physical standards to the idea of spiritual beings, he will not ask how solar spirits dwelling on the Sun can enter a physical and etheric body during the night. The same conditions of space do not apply equally to beings in the physical world and to beings so exalted that they dwell on the Sun. Such beings may very well live on the Sun and yet send their forces into the human physical body during the night. So that we may say: By day man is awake, that is, he inhabits his physical and etheric bodies; by night he sleeps, that is, he is outside his physical and etheric bodies. The Gods or other beings from the spheres beyond the Earth watch over man's physical and etheric bodies during the night. Though this phraseology is more or less symbolical, it is nevertheless exact. We know, therefore, whence the beings come, who enter into our physical and etheric bodies during the night. Our two starting-points, then, coincide here. But we shall see immediately that these beings are of importance not only as regards man's life by night, but that they gradually gain in significance for his life by day. In the first place, however, in order to understand clearly the full importance of the Moon's exit from Earth evolution, we must consider some other matters. Today let us consider the other beings around us and enquire into the manner of their origin.
When we look back to the Saturn period we may say that this body was composed solely of human beings. There was no animal, no vegetable, no mineral kingdom on that body. The whole Saturn sphere was nothing but human forms in embryonic state — much as a blackberry consists of a number of single little berries. And all the beings who belonged to Saturn surrounded this sphere and acted upon it from the environing space. And now let us ask whence that power came which provided the first beginning of the human physical body on Saturn. In a certain sense we may say that it came from two sides. In the first place, high spiritual beings bearing the name of ‘Thrones’, in the sense of Christian esotericism, poured out their substance and consummated a great sacrifice on old Saturn. Human thought, even human seership, hardly dare presume to peer into the sublime evolution through which the Thrones must have passed before they were able to sacrifice a part of themselves to form the first beginning of the human physical body. Let us try to understand a little what is meant by such a sacrifice.
When we consider the being best known to us today, man, we say: Man, as he is, demands certain things of the world and gives certain things to the world. Goethe has summed this up in the words: ‘Human life runs its course in the metamorphosis between giving and taking.’ Man derives more than physical sustenance from the outer world; his intellect, too, must draw nourishment from it. Thus he provides for his growth and obtains what he requires for his own development. On the other hand, he develops the capacity to requite what he receives, with matured ideas, feelings, and finally with love. By taking from the world on one side and giving back on the other, his abilities are increasingly heightened; he becomes a reasonable and intellectual human being; he can develop ideas which can be offered up for the common welfare of humanity. He develops feelings and emotions which become transmuted into love; and when he brings these feelings and emotions as an offering to his fellow human beings, the life of the latter becomes quickened thereby. We need only recall the quickening effect of love. Whoever is really able to pour forth love on is fellow creatures can quicken, comfort, and elevate them by his love alone. Man has therefore the ability to sacrifice something. But to whatever heights our capacity for sacrifice may rise, our power is meagre when compared with that of the Thrones. Evolution, however, consists in the acquisition of an increasing capacity for sacrifice, until a being is finally capable of offering up his own substance and being; indeed, of feeling it to be his highest bliss when he gives forth what he has developed as his own substance. Such sublime beings do indeed exist, who rise to a higher level of existence by offering up their own substance. The materialist will of course here again say: ‘If beings are so advanced that they can sacrifice their own substance, how can they rise to a higher stage? If they offer up themselves, there is nothing left of them!’ Thus the materialist, for he cannot understand that there is a spiritual existence, and that a being is preserved even if he gives forth all that he has gradually taken to himself. On Saturn the Thrones had reached a stage at which they could pour out the substance which they had acquired in the course of their foregoing evolution. Through this act they rose to a higher stage of evolution. That which issued from the Thrones, as the thread which the spider spins from its body to weave its web, was the groundwork for the formation of the physical human body. Then came other beings, not so high in rank as the Thrones, whom we call Spirits of Personality or Archai, in the sense of Christian esotericism. The Spirits of Personality now took in hand, as it were, the substance that issued from the Thrones. The collaboration of these two hierarchies produced the first beginning of the physical human body, which was as then elaborated through long periods of time. Then, as we said yesterday, there ensued universal night or cosmic Devachan which was followed by the second incarnation of the Earth as ‘Sun’. The human beings again came forth and other spiritual beings appeared on the scene. These were the Fire Spirits or Archangels, in the sense of Christian esotericism, and the Spirits of Wisdom or Kyriotetes. These now were most concerned in further developing what reappeared as the physical human body. It was now the turn of the Kyriotetes (Dominions or Spirits of Wisdom) to sacrifice their substance, and what we know as the etheric body flowed from them into the human physical body. The etheric body was elaborated by the Spirits of Personality together with the Fire Spirits or Archangels, and as a result man developed to a being of the value of a plant. We may say that on Saturn man had the value and the existence of a mineral, inasmuch as he had no more than a physical body, as our minerals today. On the Sun man rose to the level of a plant, for he possessed both physical and etheric bodies. An event now took place the idea of which must occupy a foremost place in our minds if we wish to understand evolution in its entirety.
In speaking of this event, I always like to compare it with an event of everyday life, when children in school, having failed to attain the required standard, miss their promotion, to the grief and annoyance of the parents, and are left to repeat the same class. Something of the kind exists also in the Cosmos. Certain beings fail to reach the goal of their cosmic evolutionary stage and remain behind. Some of the Spirits of Personality who should have reached the goal due on Saturn, remained behind; they had neglected to do all that was necessary to raise man to the value of a mineral and to bring him to the appropriate perfection at this stage. Now in what way was it possible for these Spirits of Personality who had fallen behind on Saturn to work during the Sun evolution? They could not create a being such as man was due to become on the Sun, with both physical and etheric bodies. For this purpose Archangels were necessary. Those Spirits of Personality could create no more on the Sun than formerly on Saturn: a physical germ of the value of a mineral. Hence there arose during the Sun period, through their influence, beings of a lower grade, which formed a kingdom inferior to the human kingdom; these were the ancestors of our present animals. On the Sun, therefore, our human kingdom had advanced to the plant stage, while the animal kingdom was on the level of the mineral. In this way the first beginning of our animal kingdom arose in addition to the human kingdom.
We ask therefore: which of all the beings that surround us can look back upon the longest evolution? Who is the first born of our creation? Man! All the other beings have arisen because the evolutionary forces bound up with human existence kept back the embryo which might have become man at a certain stage, and allowed it to grow into a lower being at a later stage. Had the laggard Spirits of Personality performed their task on Saturn, and not on the Sun, there would have been no animal kingdom. In a similar way, the following events occurred on the Moon. (I need only touch upon them now.) Man's development progressed inasmuch as he received his astral body from other beings, the Spirits of Motion (Christian Dynamis). Man thereby rose to the value of an animal during the Moon period. But the beings who had arisen as a second (mineral) kingdom during the Sun period now mostly attained the plant value on the Moon. These were the precursors of our present animals. To these were added, once more by the agency of the spiritual beings who had fallen behind in the manner indicated, the creations which now form our vegetable kingdom. On the Sun there had been no vegetable kingdom but only a human and an animal kingdom. The vegetable kingdom appeared for the first time on the Moon; but a mineral kingdom, a solid earth from which all things grow, did not yet exist. In this manner the kingdoms evolved by degrees. The highest of these, the human kingdom, was first to evolve. The animal kingdom is something in the nature of an outcast from the human kingdom — a failure to reach the highest level; and what remained still further behind, became our present vegetable kingdom.
When the evolution of the old Moon was completed, Earth evolution began, and we have already described how Sun and Moon separated from the Earth. The germ of the earlier kingdoms, both animal and plant, reappeared on the Earth, and finally (while the Moon and its substance still formed part of the Earth) the mineral kingdom appeared in addition. It was precisely owing to the mineral kingdom and the solid foundation it provided, that the Earth became hardened, parched, and waste, in the manner described. For the mineral kingdom by which we are now surrounded is nothing but the cast-off element of the other, higher kingdoms. As I have pointed out before, you need only consider thoughtfully what is recognized by the science of the day. You will then realize how the mineral kingdom was segregated from the other kingdoms. Remember that coal, a mineral substance, is extracted from the earth. What was coal ages ago? Trees that once grew on the earth, plants that once perished and became stony masses, minerals. What is now dug out in the form of coal was once a conglomerate of plants. Coal is a product that was segregated; originally there were plants there instead of coal. In the same way you will realize that everything else which forms the solid groundwork of our Earth has been segregated from the higher kingdoms. Think how certain of our present mineral products are excretions of certain animals, such as the shells of snails and other mollusks. Originally no minerals whatever existed; they were segregated in the course of time. The mineral kingdom appeared for the first time upon our Earth, and the reason of its formation was that there were still certain beings present who worked upon the Earth in the same way as they had worked upon Saturn. In fact, the existence of the mineral kingdom is due to the activity of the Spirits of Personality; and such beings are active on all higher stages. If, however, evolution had continued in this way, there would have been so many mineral deposits, so many processes of hardening and densification, that the Earth would have gradually become a desert waste.
We have now reached an important point in the evolution of our Earth. We picture to ourselves how the Sun has left the Earth with the finest substances and the beings who are now the spiritual inhabitants of the Sun. We behold the growing desolation of the Earth and see how its mineral crust becomes increasingly dense and how all forms (including the human forms) wither away. Even at that time a certain alternation took place in the conditions of human life. An illustration taken from the growth of the plant will show what occurred at that time.
Springing from the tiny seed, the plant bursts forth in spring, unfolds to blossom and fruit and withers away again in autumn. All that delights the eye in spring and summer disappears in autumn, and, outwardly in the physical world, only an insignificant remnant is left. But if you believed that during winter nothing of the true being of the plant were present, or that the true being must be sought in the physical seed alone, you would have little idea of the plant. To be sure, in its present form of existence, the plant consists of a physical and an etheric body; but for clairvoyant vision, its upper part is surrounded by an astral being, as by a border. This astral being is enlivened by a power that streams towards the Earth from the Sun, that is, from the spiritual Sun. For clairvoyant consciousness every blossom is surrounded as by a cloud. This cloud breathes the life that is exchanged between Sun and Earth. In spring and summer, while the plants bud and blossom, something of the Sun-being draws near and hovers round the surface of the plant. When autumn comes this astral being withdraws and unites itself with the life of the Sun. We may say that the plant-astrality seeks its physical plant-body on the Earth in spring, and incarnates itself, if not IN this plant-body, at any rate around it. In autumn it returns to the Sun, leaving behind the seed as a pledge that it will find its way back again to its physical body.
In similar fashion there was a kind of exchange between the physical human beings and the Sun-beings, though the human form was as yet primitive and elementary. There were periods in which the Sun-spirits worked upon the Earth beneath, enveloping the human bodies with their astrality, as today the plant-astrality envelops the plants from spring till autumn. Thus, in speaking of those times, we may say that, during certain periods, man's astral being was to a certain extent united with his physical body on Earth, and that it (the astral being) then withdrew to the Sun, to return again later. In the physical body only the germ was left. But the Earth became ever denser and denser, and something then happened of great importance which I would ask you especially to bear in mind. In earlier times, immediately after the separation of the Sun from the Earth, it was still possible for the astral beings to unite with the physical body, when they returned after their period of separation. Subsequently, however, owing to the increasing influence of the Moon, the bodies down below became so hardened that the beings who descended to reside in them found them unfit for use. Here you have a closer description of what I described yesterday in a more abstract way. I said the Sun-forces found it impossible to form and shape the substances on the Earth. Speaking more concretely, we may say that the substances dried up and the beings no longer found suitable bodies. This resulted in the desolation of the Earth, and the human souls desiring to return to the Earth, at last found that the bodies were no longer suitable for them. The souls had to leave the bodies to their fate and only the strongest of these were able to rescue their existence through this period of desolation. This period reached its climax while the Moon was still in the Earth but was preparing to leave. The souls which still desired to be human souls were no longer able to enter these bodies. At that time only a few human beings inhabited the Earth, and it looked as though all life would become extinct upon it. It is a fair description of those conditions to say that at the time of the Moon's exit, very few souls desiring union with the bodies beneath were strong enough to unite with them, so that only very few human beings were able to survive this evil period.
I must not describe these conditions more in detail. Let us return to the point at which the old Moon evolution had reached an end, and the Earth arose from the bosom of the universe. The Earth was not like old Saturn; what now came forth contained the after effects of all that had gone before; not physical matter alone was connected therewith, but all the beings as well, who had worked in evolution. The connection of the Thrones with Saturn signifies that they remained united with the whole of evolution; they came forth once more when the Earth issued from cosmic darkness. The Spirits of Personality reappeared in like manner, so too the Spirits of Motion, and so on; also human, animal, and plant forms, for all these were contained in the Earth.
Modern physical science puts forward hypotheses which are pure fancy. Thus with regard to the genesis of the world, the theory is advanced that there was a vast nebular mass extending beyond Saturn. A cosmic nebula of this kind, composed merely of mists and vapours, is a fantastic idea; there never was such a thing. To anyone observing what happened there with physical eyes alone, something of the kind — a gigantic vaporous body — might indeed have been visible. But in that mass of vapour was something which physical eyes could not have seen — namely, all the beings connected with our evolution. The fact that everything afterwards assumed order and form was not due merely to rotary motion, but to the needs of the beings who were themselves a part of the whole. We shall never acquire a reasonable view of these things unless we rid ourselves altogether of the accepted theories with which even our children are inoculated from their earliest schooldays. They are taught that in ancient times only childish ideas and views were current: These unfortunate Indians believed in a Brahma filling the whole of universal space! An ancient Persian believed in Ormuzd, the good God, and in his opponent Ahriman! Not to speak of the ancient Greeks, with their host of divinities, Zeus, Pallas Athene, and so on! We know today that all that comes from popular imagination — beings imagined by a childish mind. And the Gods of the old Teutons, Wotan, Thor, and so on, are mythological figures; we have long ago got beyond this! We know now that such gods had nothing to do with the development of the world. In the beginning there was a vast primordial nebula in space; this began to rotate; first it threw off one sphere from its volume; then it continued to rotate; in time a second sphere was thrown off, then a third, and so on. But this is only the form taken by a physical-Copernican mythology of modern times, which will in its turn be superseded by other views. The earlier mythologies have the advantage that they are truer than the alter forms, which have merely sifted out the abstract and purely material side. We must never forget how very convenient it is to demonstrate to children the apparently simple and plausible genesis of the solar system. We take a drop of oil, cut out a small disk of cardboard, stick a pin through it in the direction of the equator and another through the top, then place it on the water and let it float. The whole thing is now brought into rotation, as they say the ‘universal nebula once rotated’. First there is flattening of the oil, then one drop detaches itself, followed by a second and a third — a large drop remains in the middle — and behold a miniature planetary system! And it sounds very plausible to say: ‘As this appears to us in miniature, so it once happened in the Universe.’ They, however, who arrange such demonstrations forget one thing which it may be very laudable to forget under other circumstances. They forget themselves. They forget that they themselves are the cause of the rotation. The whole comparison would only hold good if the worthy teacher would bring himself to say: ‘Just as I stand here and turn the little pin, a giant professor stands out there and takes care that the planets separate off, as we saw happen on a small scale with the drop of oil.’ In this case the experiment might pass muster.
We know that no giant professor stands out there and turns the pin, but that beings of every rank are there — spiritual beings who attract the substances corresponding to themselves. Beings who required certain definite conditions of life, attracted to themselves suitable substances, when they withdrew to the Sun. They took with them these substances and established their centre of activity by the power of their spiritual forces. Other beings again severed the Earth-substance for themselves. Spirit and nothing but spirit works into the smallest particle of matter — into the atom if we so choose to call it! And it is contrary to truth to ascribe to mere matter a mode of activity. People will not understand what takes place in the smallest division of space until they know that spirit is at work in the greatest. To be sure, not spirit in general, as when people say: ‘There is of course, generally speaking, spirit in matter, an “All-spirit”, or “primal spirit”.’ Such a designation might mean anything you like but explains nothing. We must know the ‘Spirits’ as they really are, with their peculiarities and various vital requirements. And now I will add something to complete what I touched upon yesterday concerning the separation of the Sun from the Earth-plus-Moon, and again the separation of the Moon from the Earth. In the main this is correct, but this picture must be supplemented.
Before the Sun could separate, the necessity arose for certain beings to sever off for themselves special spheres of activity. These spheres are visible to us today in the physical planets Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Thus we may say that in the universal substance, in which the Sun and Moon were contained, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars were also contained, and that certain beings removed these spheres for themselves. These Beings required conditions of existence which could be fulfilled on the planets named. Then the Sun detached itself, with the highest Beings, and Earth-plus-Moon was left. This sphere continued its development until the Moon was ejected in the manner described. But of the beings who went with the Sun, not all were capable of keeping pace with solar evolution. It is difficult to find words to describe these events in our prosaic language, and the use of analogies is sometimes necessary. We may therefore say that when the Sun separated from the Earth, certain beings believed themselves capable of traveling in the Sun's escort. In reality, however, only the highest beings could do so; the others were compelled to separate at a later stage, and by their creation of new spheres of activity for themselves, Venus and Mercury came into existence. We see the separation of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars before the exit of the Sun from the Earth; afterwards Venus and Mercury detach themselves from the Sun, and finally the Moon leaves the Earth. Thus we have gathered this evolution from spiritual worlds and placed it before us. We have understood the development of our solar system in the sense that we find various grades of spiritual beings upon the different heavenly bodies. Having placed these facts before our soul, we can find the answer to the question: What became of those spiritual astral beings who wished to incarnate as men and found only hardened bodies which they could not enter? Being insufficiently mature they could not all unite with the Sun spirits, and it thus happened that, being compelled to abandon the bodies on the Earth, they withdrew for a time to Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. While the Earth below was growing desolate and produced bodies incapable of harbouring human souls we have the fact that the souls betook themselves to planetary heights there to await the time when human bodies would again be available for them.
Only very few, only the most robust human beings were able to receive into themselves souls and preserve their existence during the Moon crisis; the other souls ascended to the other heavenly bodies. Then the Moon was ejected from the Earth. This enabled the Sun forces again to work upon the human forms; the latter received a new impulse and once more became soft, pliable, and plastic; and into these now plastic human forms, the souls which had been waiting on Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars could again enter. Whereas these souls had been compelled to abandon the Earth, they now returned by degrees, after the expulsion of the Moon, and peopled the rejuvenated human bodies. Thus, following upon the exit of the Moon, we come to a period during which new bodies appear in increasing numbers. During the Moon crisis the number of human beings was very small. These were never without descendants, but when the souls returned to Earth they found the bodies unfit for use and left them to perish. By degrees the human race died out. But when the rejuvenating process set in, the progeny of the human beings who had outlived the Moon crisis were once more able to receive the souls from Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. The Earth gradually became peopled with souls. And now you can understand the profound importance of this decisive event — the exit of the Moon. Strictly speaking, everything was changed by it.
Let us once more consider evolution before the Moon's exit. We referred to Man as the first born of creation, for he appeared during Saturn. The Sun brought the animal kingdom, the Moon the vegetable kingdom, and finally the mineral kingdom came into existence on the Earth. But now, subsequently to the Moon's expulsion, things became different. The Earth was saved from mummification by the exit of the Moon. Everything then revived and was rejuvenated. What was the manner of this rejuvenation?
The lowest of the kingdoms, the mineral, required little help. The vegetable kingdom was in a sense withered, but could soon revive; the animal kingdom, too, was capable of gradual progress. The human beings were the last to recover so as to be fit to receive the souls which descended upon them from the highest regions. Thus, through the expulsion of the Moon, the whole process of evolution becomes reversed. Whereas originally the human kingdom was first to come into existence, then the animal kingdom, later the plants, and last of all the minerals — the mineral kingdom is now the first to show the full benefit of the rejuvenating forces; then follows the vegetable kingdom, which develops to its highest forms; next the animal kingdom, leaving the human kingdom last in order to evolve to the highest forms possible to it. After the exit of the Moon, the whole sense of evolution is reversed. The beings who wait longest before uniting their spiritual to their physical form, were precisely those who, in the highest sense of the word, ascended to a more spiritual sphere after the separation of the Moon. Others who completed their spiritual development earlier, remained behind on the Earth at an earlier stage. After the separation of the Moon the laggards appeared first. You will easily understand the reason. Let us consider some human soul or some being which was unwilling to incarnate earlier owing to the prevailing hardening of substance. In the words of our language, such a being might deliberate as follows: ‘Shall I incarnate now or shall I wait awhile?’ Let us suppose that the Moon was only a short while separated and the substances still very hard. The being is in a hurry to incarnate; it descends at all costs and puts up with the still undeveloped bodies. As a result it is condemned to remain upon a lower level. Another being might reflect as follows: ‘I prefer to wait awhile in universal space, till the Earth has still further refined and rarefied its physical being.’ This being waits for a later epoch and, as a result, succeeds in giving form and shape to the body in which it incarnates, and makes it a physical image of itself. Hence all beings who incarnate too soon must remain upon subordinate stages; others who can wait, attain the highest stages. Our higher animals remained upon the animal stage because they were unable to wait long enough after the exit of the Moon. They put up with such bodies as were available. The next to descend formed their bodies up to the level of the inferior human races, which are already extinct or are dying out. Then followed a time when the right moment was at hand for the union of souls and bodies, and when beings were brought forth which were really capable of human development. Thus we see the desolation of the Earth until the Moon's exit, followed by a revival after that event. Thenceforward the beings who had left the Earth because of its excessive deterioration, descend once more. This applies not only to the beings who are exclusively concerned with the development of higher humanity, but also to others who descend for quite other purposes. In this case, too, it is essential for a being to await the right moment to enter a body.
Let us go back to the Indian epoch. At that time there were men at a high stage of development. Even as souls descending from Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter sought suitable bodies, higher beings sought still more highly developed bodies in order to work in the inner nature of man. Let us take the great teachers of the ancient Indians, the holy Rishis. They placed a part of their being at the disposal of certain higher beings, who took up their abode in them. Other high beings, however, said: ‘No, we shall wait awhile until there are other beings down there who are themselves experiencing a higher development; we prefer not to descend; we remain above until men have further matured their soul; then we shall descend; for the present we find the inner nature of man but little prepared for us.’ In the Persian period certain higher beings said: ‘We can now descend into the human nature in its present stage of development.’ The same thing happened in Egyptian times. But He who was the highest of all the Sun Beings still waited. From without, this Being sent down His forces upon the holy Rishis. They looked up to Him whom they called Vishva Karman, saying: ‘Vishva Karman is beyond our sphere.’ But He waited, saying: ‘The human soul is not so perfectly prepared that I can abide therein.’ Then came the Persian period. Zarathustra looked up to the Sun and beheld Ahura Mazdao. And still this mighty Spirit refrained from descending into earthly space. Then came the Egyptian period and the civilization of the people which had waited longest. And then came the man who had waited longest, who had developed his inner nature through many incarnations. The Sun-Spirit looked down and beheld the inner nature of this man who dwelt in Jesus of Nazareth and who had made his soul ready. The highest Sun-Spirit looked down and said: ‘As the lowest beings once descended to build up the bodies, I now descend and take residence in the inner nature of the man who waited longest.’ To be sure higher beings had already united themselves with men; but he who had waited longest received into himself the Christ. At the Baptism in the Jordan he was so advanced that the Spirit who had hitherto sojourned in the realms of universal space, could descend upon him and unite with his inner nature. From the time of the Baptism by John, Christ dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, because the individuality of Jesus of Nazareth had waited through successive incarnations until it was ripe to receive this high Spirit. The Christ-Spirit was always there; but after the separation of the Moon it was necessary that all beings should first attain a certain degree of maturity. The first to appear were the lowest beings which, as regards their spiritual part, had been least able to wait; then came beings of higher and higher grade. And when man appeared and his inner nature attained ever higher development — until at last Jesus of Nazareth was so far advanced — then he who had eyes to see could say: ‘I saw the Spirit descend!’ And he upon whom the Spirit descended, what could he say when the Spirit now within him gave utterance? For that Spirit was none other than He whom the Rishis knew as Vishva Karman. How must Vishva Karman have spoken of himself — not in the words of the Rishis but in his own words? For he is the great Sun-Spirit, who, as Spirit, is active in light. He would have said: ‘I am the light of the world!’ What would Ahura Mazdao have said, had he spoken of himself? ‘I am the light of the world!’ What were the words spoken by the same Spirit when a human being had become ready to receive Him into himself? He who was once in universal space, how does He now speak from out of a human being? ‘I am the light of the world!’
When the divine Being Himself had made His dwelling within a human being, we hear the same utterance, which had once resounded on the Earth from celestial choirs, now re-echoed from a human soul, as the truest characterization of Himself by the guiding Cosmic Deity. It resounds, as it must, from Jesus of Nazareth, in whom is the Christ:
‘I am the Light of the world.’