10 June 1906, Paris
In the last lecture we retraced the past of man more particularly from the point of view of his form and his body. We will now consider the past as regards his states of consciousness.
The following questions often arise before the mind: Is man the only being upon Earth who possesses self consciousness? Or again: What is the relation between the consciousness of man and that of the animals, plants and metals? Have these lower kingdoms of life any consciousness at all?
Imagine that a tiny insect crawling on the body of a man could see only his finger. It could have no conception whatever of the organism as a whole, nor of the soul. We ourselves are in exactly the same position as regards the Earth and other beings indwelling it. A materialist has no conception of the soul of the Earth and, as a natural result, he is not aware of the existence of his own soul. Similarly, if a tiny insect is unaware of the soul of man, this is because it has no soul with which to perceive.
The Earth-soul is much more sublime than the soul of man and man knows nothing of it. In reality, all beings have consciousness but man's consciousness is quite different, inasmuch as in our age it is perfectly attuned to the physical world.
As well as the waking state (corresponding to the physical world), man passes through other conditions of consciousness. During dreamless sleep, his consciousness lives in the devachanic world. The consciousness of the plant is always devachanic. If a plant ‘suffers,’ the suffering brings about a change in devachanic consciousness. The animal has astral consciousness, corresponding to the dream-life of man.
These three states of consciousness are very different. In the physical world we evolve ideas simply by means of the sense organs and the outer realities with which these organs put us into touch. In the astral world, we perceive the surrounding milieu only in the form of pictures, feeling at the same time as if we were part of them.
Why does man, who is conscious in the physical world, feel himself separate from all that is not himself? It is because he receives all his impressions from a milieu which he perceives very distinctly outside his body. In the astral world, on the contrary, we do not perceive by means of the senses but by the sympathy which makes us penetrate to the heart of everything we encounter. Astral consciousness is not confined within a relatively limited field; in a certain sense it is liquid, fluidic. In the devachanic world, consciousness is as diffused as a gas might be. There is no resemblance whatever with physical consciousness, into which nothing penetrates except by way of the senses.
What was the object of this shutting-off of consciousness which followed the stage of imaginative consciousness? If such a shutting-off had not taken place, man could never have said ‘I’ of himself. The divine germ could not have penetrated into his being in the course of evolution if it had not been for the crystallisation of his physical body. Where, then, was this divine Spirit before the solidification of the Earth and of consciousness? Genesis tells us: “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The divine Spirit, the spark of the Ego, was still in the astral world.
In higher Devachan, beyond the fourth degree, referred to in occultism as Arupa (without body), where Akasha (negative substance) has its rise — there is the home of the consciousness of the minerals. We must try to reach a deep and true understanding of the mineral kingdom and discover our moral link with it. The Rosicrucians in the Middle Ages taught their disciples to revere the chastity of the mineral, — “Imagine,” they said, “that while retaining his faculties of thinking and feeling, a man becomes as pure and free from desire as the mineral, — He then possesses an infallible power — a spiritual power.” — If we can say that the spirits of the several minerals are living in Devachan, we can say equally correctly that the spirit of the minerals is like a man who might live only with devachanic consciousness.
In other beings, then, the existence of consciousness must not be denied. Man has traversed all these degrees of consciousness on the descending curve of evolution. Originally he resembled the minerals, in this sense, that his Ego lived in a higher world and guided him from above. But the aim of evolution is to free man from being subject to beings endowed with a consciousness higher than his own and to bear him to a point where he himself is fully conscious in higher worlds.
All these levels of consciousness are contained within man today:
- The consciousness of the mineral-corresponding to deep sleep.
- The consciousness of the plant-ordinary sleep.
- Animal consciousness-dream-life.
- Physical, objective consciousness-the normal waking state. The two former states are atavistic survivals.
- A consciousness which repeats the third stage but retains the acquired quality of objectivity. Images have definite colours and are realised as being quite distinct from the perceiver. The subjective sense of attraction or repulsion vanishes. In this new imaginative consciousness, the faculty of reason that has been acquired in the physical world retains its own powers.
- Sleep itself — not the dream — here becomes a conscious state. We do not only behold images but we enter into the living essence of beings and hear their inner tones. In the physical world we give names to things but the names are merely outer appellations. Only man can express his own being from within by saying ‘I’ — the ineffable name of conscious individuality. By this word we distinguish our own personality from the rest of the universe. But when we become conscious of the world of sound, each being, each thing communicates its own true name; in clairaudience we hear the sound which expresses its innermost being and rings forth as a tone in the universe that is distinct from all others.
- One stage further and deep sleep becomes a conscious state. Description is impossible, for this condition passes beyond the limits of comparison. All that can be said is that it exists.
Such are the seven states of consciousness through which man passes, and he will pass through others too. There is always one central state, with three beneath and three above. The three higher states reproduce, in a higher sense, the three lower. A traveler is always at the centre of the horizon. Each state of consciousness develops through seven states of life, and each state of life through seven states of form. Thus seven states of form always constitute one state of life; seven states of life compose one whole period of planetary evolution, for example that of our Earth.
The seven states of life culminate in the formation of seven kingdoms, of which four are actually visible: the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms. In each state of consciousness, therefore, man passes through 7 x 7 states of form this brings us to 7 x 7 x 7 metamorphoses (343).
If we could envisage in one single tableau the 343 states of form, we should have a picture of the third Logos.
If we could envisage the 49 states of life, we should have a picture of the second Logos.
If we could envisage the 7 states of consciousness, we should have a conception of the first Logos.
Evolution consists in the mutual interaction of all these seven forms. In order to pass from one form to the other, a new spirit is necessary (the action of the Holy Spirit). In order to pass from one state of life to another, a new power is necessary (the action of the Son). In order to pass from one state of consciousness to another, a new consciousness is necessary (the action of the Father).
Christ Jesus brought a new state of life and was in very truth the Word made Flesh. With the coming of the Christ, a new force entered into the world, preparing a new Earth in a new relationship with the heavens.