27 January 1908, Berlin
In the lecture today we shall make a rather far-reaching sweep into cosmic space. This will reveal to us, in broad outline, the inner course of world evolution, and at the same time its intimate connection with human evolution on the Earth. Everything in the universe is interconnected. To be able to follow these complicated connections naturally takes a long, long time, and it is only very gradually that man can find his way, so to speak, into the intricate workings of the cosmos.
In previous lectures you have heard how certain beings who have their abode on other cosmic bodies exercise an influence upon our own life, how they are related to what we call lymph, to the digestive fluids, also to our sense-perceptions. This will have given you a picture of the wide-spread operations of the spirit throughout cosmic space. We shall study a different aspect of these things today, reminding ourselves, to begin with, that our Earth, like man himself, has passed through different embodiments and will pass through others in times to come.
We look back to three previous embodiments of our Earth: to the immediately preceding embodiment which we call the Old Moon (not to be confused with our present moon); then to that of the “Sun”; and still further back to that of “Saturn.” And looking forward we see prophetically that our Earth will be transformed into a “Jupiter,” a “Venus” and a “Vulcan.”
These are the successive embodiments of our planet Earth. If you give a little thought to these stages of our Earth's evolution, you will realize that what in occult science we call a “Sun” is — like our present sun — a heavenly body around which a number of planets revolve. When, apart from this, we also speak of a planetary Sun-existence, saying that our Earth itself in an earlier state of evolution, was “Sun,” we imply, in a certain respect, that the sun which is today the centre of our planetary system, was not always a sun. It has advanced, so to speak, to the rank and dignity of a sun in the Cosmos. It was once united with the substances and forces contained in our Earth and then, taking away, as it were, what was the best and most capable of the highest development, it separated from the Earth, leaving us, together with certain forces which were destined for a slower evolution, behind. The Sun took with it certain higher beings and together with these higher beings established itself at the centre of our system. Therefore two stages earlier, what is contained in the sun today had a planetary existence only and it has risen from this to the form of existence belonging to the fixed stars. This will show you what mighty changes in evolution take place in the universe. At the outset, a sun is not a sun. A fixed star has not, from the very beginning, been a fixed star, but has had to pass through the lower school of planetary existence.
Now you may quite naturally ask me: What, then, happens when a fixed star evolves to a further stage? As truly as the Sun-existence — a fixed star existence — has risen from a planetary existence, so truly does its evolution proceed to further stages of life in the cosmos. We shall of course understand this evolution still better if we study the further evolution of our Earth.
It is true that for a certain period of its cosmic evolution our earth has been separated from the sun. The sun and its beings advance along a more rapid evolutionary path. Our earth and the beings belonging to it take a different course. But these beings, and the earth as a whole, will one day have progressed to the stage where union is again possible with the sun — after a separate existence has enabled them to complete and perfect their present phase of development. For our earth will again unite with the sun. During the stage of Earth-existence itself, the earth will reunite with the sun, just as during the same phase of evolution it separated from the sun. But during the Jupiter-stage there must again be a separation. The earth-beings must again be separated from the sun during the Jupiter-condition. Again there will be a reunion, and during the Venus-condition our earth will be united permanently with the sun, will have been taken up for all time into the sun. During the Vulcan-condition our earth will itself have become a sun within the sun and have contributed something to the sun-evolution, will have added something which, in spite of their higher rank, those beings who have always remained in the sun, could never themselves have achieved. Earth-existence was necessary in order that men might evolve as they have evolved, with a consciousness that alternates between waking and sleeping. This is connected with the separation from the sun. Beings who live always in the sun do not have day and night. The sense-consciousness which we call the clear consciousness of day and which in times to come will evolve into higher conditions, carries with it into the sun-evolution the fruits of experiences connected with the things of outer physical space. In this way the earth-beings give something to the sun, enrich the sun. And out of what is thus acquired on the earth, augmented by what is acquired on the sun, the Vulcan-existence comes into being. This Vulcan-existence is actually a higher condition than that of our present sun-existence. The earth evolves, the sun evolves, until they can unite to constitute the Vulcan-existence.
You may ask me: When a planet has evolved in this way to a sun-existence, what does this sun become in the course of further cosmic evolution? When our earth reaches the Venus-condition it will itself have become sun, and all the beings on Venus are sun-beings — actually at a higher stage than the beings of the present sun. What, then, is the further stage of such planetary evolution?
The following will seem grotesque, even preposterous, to those whose concepts are rooted in modern astronomy. Nevertheless it is a truth of cosmic evolution that when a planet like our earth has risen to sun-existence, when it has gradually achieved union with the sun and even sun-existence is transcended, there arises, as a still higher stage of evolution, something that in a certain sense you can perceive in the heavens: there arises what we today call a “Zodiac” — it is the stage higher than that of a fixed star. Thus when beings are no longer restricted to the form of existence belonging to a fixed star but have expanded their evolution so powerfully that it extends beyond fixed stars and the fixed stars lie like bodies embedded in it — then a higher stage is reached, the stage of Zodiac-existence. The forces which work from a Zodiac upon a planetary system themselves evolved, in former ages, in a planetary system and have advanced to the stage of a Zodiac.
And now cast your minds back to the old Saturn evolution, the first embodiment of our Earth. This Saturn once glimmered, as it were, in cosmic space, as the first herald of the dawn of our planetary existence. You know, too, that on this old Saturn the first germinal inception of our physical body was brought into being. Even at its greatest density this Saturn was not nearly as physically dense as our earth. It was a condition of utmost rarefication. That which today permeates all beings as warmth — known in occultism as “fire” — was the matter of Saturn. We may picture to ourselves that around this Saturn, this first, dawn-condition of our planetary system, there were the constellations of the Zodiac — but not yet as they are today. The single stars composing the Zodiacal constellations around that ancient Saturn were scarcely to be distinguished from each other. They glittered only very faintly, like beams of light streaming out from Saturn. The best way to picture this is to think of ancient Saturn encircled by beams of light, just as our earth is encircled by a Zodiac. And in the course of Earth-evolution itself these light-masses developed into the present star clusters comprised in the Zodiac. So that the Zodiac — to use an abstract expression — has differentiated out of that original ocean of flame. And from what did this ocean of flame itself arise?
It arose from the planetary system which preceded our own. Saturn itself was preceded by planetary evolutions in an age which, speaking in the sense of occult astronomy, can by no means be described as “time” as we understand time, for its character was rather different. But for the human mind today the concept is so fabulous that we have no word with which to express it. Speaking in analogy, however, we can say that the forces which preceded our planetary system in an earlier cycle of planetary existence went forth in the light-streams, and out of a small portion of matter gradually gathering together at the centre, this first, dawn-condition of the Earth arose; this was ancient Saturn and the forces contained in the Zodiac radiated down upon it from the cosmic All.
Something rather remarkable comes to light when we compare planetary existence with zodiacal existence. The occultist makes use of two words to indicate the difference between them. He says: Everything that is contained in the Zodiac is under the sign of “Duration”; everything that is comprised within planetary existence is under the sign of “Time.” You can get an idea of what this means if you remember that not even the farthest reaches of the mind can conceive of changes having taken place in the Zodiac. Each single planet may have undergone considerable change through long and greatly differing periods of evolution; the forces working in the Zodiac remain, relatively speaking, fixed and permanent. These concepts can, in any case, be only relative. The only difference in these changes of which we can conceive is in respect of the speed. Changes in the Zodiac take place slowly; changes in the planetary world and even in the existence of a fixed star take place rapidly — in comparison, that is to say, with what happens in the Zodiac. — The difference is always relative, only relative. As far as human thinking is concerned, we can say that planetary existence belongs to the sphere of the Finite, whereas Zodiacal existence belongs to the sphere of Infinitude. This, as already said, must be taken in the relative sense, but for the present it is sufficiently accurate.
And now I would ask you to pay special attention to the following: What has been achieved in a planetary existence and has become sun, ascends to “heavenly” existence, becomes zodiacal existence. And having reached zodiacal existence, what does it do? It offers itself in sacrifice! Please take account of this particular word. The first dawn-condition of the Earth, ancient Saturn, arose in a mysterious way as the result of sacrifice on the part of the Zodiac. The forces which caused the first, rarefied Saturn-masses to gather together were those which streamed down from the Zodiac, producing on Saturn the first germinal inception of physical man. This continued without cessation. You must not picture it as happening only once. Fundamentally speaking, what is happening continuously is that within what we call a planetary system the forces which evolved to a higher stage after having themselves passed through a planetary system, are sacrificed. We can say in effect: what is at first contained in a planetary system evolves to a “sun” existence, then to zodiacal existence and then has the power to be itself creative, to offer itself in sacrifice within a planetary existence. The forces from the Zodiac “rain” down continuously into the planetary existence and continuously ascend again; for that which at one time became our Zodiac must gradually ascend again. The distribution of forces in our earth existence may be conceived as follows: — on the one side forces are descending from the Zodiac and, on the other, forces are ascending to the Zodiac. Such is the mysterious interplay between the Zodiac and our earth. Forces descend and forces ascend. This is the mysterious “heavenly ladder” upon which forces are descending and ascending. These forces are indicated in various ways in the different scriptures; you find them indicated, too, in Goethe's Faust:
“What heavenly forces up and down are ranging,
The golden vessels interchanging.”
As far as our human understanding goes, these forces began to descend during the Saturn-existence of our Earth and when the Earth-existence proper had reached its middle point, the stage had arrived when they gradually began again to ascend. We have now passed beyond the middle point of our evolution, which fell in the middle of the Atlantean epoch; and what human beings have lived through since then is a phase of existence beyond the middle point. In a certain sense, therefore, we may say that at the present time, more forces are ascending to the Zodiac than are descending from it.
When, therefore, you think of the whole Zodiac, you must picture that some of its forces are descending and some are ascending. We think of the forces which are now involved in the ascending line of evolution, collectively, as Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra — because they actually belong to these constellations. These seven constellations comprise the ascending forces. The descending forces are comprised, approximately speaking, in the five constellations of Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. Thus forces rain down from the Zodiac and ascend again: seven constellations of ascending, five of descending forces. The ascending forces also correspond, in man, to the higher members of his being, to his higher, nobler attributes. The forces which are in the descending phase of evolution have first to pass through man and within him to attain to the stage at which they too can become ascending forces.
In this way you will realize that there is interaction between everything in cosmic space, that everything in cosmic space is interconnected, inter-related. But it must never be forgotten that these operations and activities are going on all the time, that they are ever-present. At any given moment in our evolution we can therefore speak of forces which are going forth from man and forces which are coming in; forces are descending and forces are ascending. For all and each of these forces there comes, at some point, the moment when from being descending forces they are transformed into ascending forces. All forces which eventually become ascending forces are at first descending forces. They descend, so to say, as far as man. In man they acquire the power to ascend.
At the middle point of its evolution, when our Earth had passed through the three planetary stages of Saturn, Sun, Moon, had reached the fourth planetary condition, having in front of it the stages of Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan (as Earth, therefore, it is midway in the span of its existence) — it had passed through three “life-conditions” (also called “rounds”). It has passed through three of these life-conditions and is now in the fourth; it has passed through three “form-conditions” — the arupic, the rupic, and the astral, leading down to physical existence. Therefore in respect of the “form-conditions,” our Earth is in the middle phase of its evolution. As physical Earth, in the fourth form-condition of the fourth life-condition of the fourth planetary existence it has had upon it three great races: the first, the Polarian race; the second, the Hyperborean race; the third, the Lemurian race. The Atlantean race is the fourth. In the Atlantean race, humanity was in the middle of those phases of evolution of which we are speaking. Since the middle of the Atlantean epoch humanity has passed beyond this middle point. And since the middle of the Atlantean epoch there have begun, for men in general, those conditions in which the ascending forces preponderate. If we were speaking of the proportion of forces descending from and ascending to the Zodiac before the middle of the Atlantean epoch, we should have to say: they were in equal proportion. We should have to speak differently of the conditions then prevailing, enumerating as the ascending forces: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo — counting Libra with the other descending forces.
But something else is connected with all this. You must realize that in speaking of these cosmic processes, we are not speaking of physical or etheric bodies but of beings in-dwelling the several heavenly bodies. When we speak of man in terms of Spiritual Science we say that the whole man — and we think of man only in this sense — is a seven-fold being, consisting of physical body, etheric body, astral body, ego, spirit-self, life-spirit, spirit-man. His development is not yet complete but will be when his sevenfold being has fully developed. But in the great cosmic All there are beings other than man, beings of a different nature. There are, for example, beings in the cosmos of whom we cannot say that, like man, they have the physical body as one of their members. There are beings of whom we must speak differently. The members of which man is composed can be enumerated as follows:
Now there are beings whose lowest member is the etheric body; they too are sevenfold, having an eighth member, higher than spirit-man. We begin to enumerate thus: etheric body, astral body, and so forth, finishing with a member above our spirit-man (Atma). There are other beings whose lowest member is the astral body; above spirit-man they have an eighth and yet a ninth member. Again there are beings whose lowest member is the ‘I,’ the ego, and who therefore have not a physical nor an etheric nor an astral body in our sense but whose Ego streams outwards without the three sheaths. They are therefore beings who send forth ‘Egos’ in all directions. These Beings have an eighth, a ninth, and a tenth member; they are described in the Apocalypse as beings who are “full of eyes”. Then there are beings in whom spirit-self (Manas) is the lowest member. They have yet an eleventh member. And finally there are beings whose lowest member is the life-spirit and who have yet a twelfth member. You must therefore think of beings who, just as man's lowest member is a physical body, have life-spirit (Budhi) as their lowest member and above, a highest member best designated by the number 12. These are most sublime beings, far transcending everything that man is able to conceive. How is it possible to form any kind of idea of these most wonderful, most sublime beings?
When we try to characterize man, in one aspect, it is obvious that with respect to the universe, he is a being who receives. The things and beings of the world are outspread around you; you perceive them, you form concepts of them. Just imagine that the world around you were empty, or dark. You could have no perceptions, nor would there be anything of which you could form concepts. You have to rely upon receiving from outside the content of your inner world. It is characteristic of man that he is a being who receives; he receives the content of his soul-life, his inner life, from outside; things must exist in the world if his soul is to have content. The nature of man's etheric body is such that it could experience nothing in itself were it not beholden to the whole surrounding universe for all experiences, for everything that enters into it. These beings of whom I have just told you, who have life-spirit as their lowest member, are in an entirely different position. In respect of their life, these beings are not dependent upon receiving anything from outside; they are “givers,” they are themselves creative. You know from what I have often told you, that the ‘I,’ the ego, works in the etheric body and that ‘Budhi’ is nothing else than a transformed etheric body. In respect of substance, therefore, the life-spirit too is an ether body. The twelfth member of these sublime beings is also an ‘ether body’ but one which pours forth life, which works in the world in such a way that it does not receive life but gives it forth, offers life in perpetual sacrifice.
And now let us ask: Can we conceive of a being who is in any way connected with us and who radiates life into our universe? Is it possible to conceive of life that is perpetually streaming into the world, imbuing the world with life?
Let us think for a moment of what was said at the beginning of the lecture, namely that there are ascending and descending forces — forces that are ascending to the Zodiac and forces that are descending from the Zodiac. How has man reached a position which makes it possible for something to stream from within him? What has happened to man that enables something to stream forth from him? He has reached this position because his ego, after long, long preparation, has steadily unfolded and developed. This I, this ego, has been in course of preparation for long, long ages. For truth to tell, the object of all existence in the Saturn-condition, the Sun-condition and the Moon-condition when the sheaths into which the I was to be received were produced — was to prepare for the I. In those earlier conditions, other beings created the dwelling-place for the I. Now, on the earth, the dwelling-place was at the stage where the I could take root in man and from then onwards the I began to work upon the outer, bodily sheaths from within. The fact that the ego is able to work from within has also brought about a surplus, a surplus of ascending forces; there was no longer a state of parity. Before the ego was able to work within man, the ascending forces gradually evolved until the middle point had been reached; and when the, ego actually entered into man the ascending and the descending forces had reached the stage where they were in ‘balance.’ At the entry of the ego, the ascending and the descending forces were in balance and it rests with man to turn the scales in the right direction. That is why the occultists have called the constellation which was entered at the time when the ego itself began to operate, the ‘Balance’ (Libra). Up to the end of Virgo, preparation was being made for the deeds of the ego in our planetary evolution, but the ego had not itself begun to work. When Libra had been reached the ego itself began to participate and this was a most important moment in its evolution.
Just think what it means that the ego had reached this stage of evolution:
From then on it was possible for the ego to participate in the work of the forces belonging to the Zodiac, to reach into the Zodiac. The more the ego strives for the highest point of its evolution, the more it works into the Zodiac. There is nothing that happens in the innermost core of the ego that has not its consequences right up to the very Zodiac. And inasmuch as man with his ego lays the foundations for his development to Atma, or spirit-man, he develops, stage by stage, the forces which enable him to work upwards into the sphere of Libra, the Balance, in the Zodiac. He will attain full power over Libra in the Zodiac when his ego has developed to Atma, or spirit-man. He will then be a being from whom something streams out, who has passed out of the sphere of Time into the sphere of Duration, of Eternity.
Such is the path of man. But there are other beings whose lowest sphere of operation is man's highest. Let us try to conceive of these beings whose lowest sphere of operation is man's highest (Libra in the Zodiac). When we relate man to the Zodiac, he reaches to Libra. The Being whose innermost nature belongs wholly to the Zodiac, whose forces belong wholly to the Zodiac, who only manifests in planetary life through his lowest member, which corresponds to Libra (as man's lowest member corresponds to Pisces) — this is the Being who spreads life throughout the whole of our universe:
Just as man receives life into himself, so does this Being radiate life through the whole of our universe. This is the Being Who has the power to make the great sacrifice and Who is inscribed in the Zodiac as the Being Who for the sake of our world offers Himself in sacrifice. Just as man strives upwards into the Zodiac, so does this Being send us His sacrificial gift from Aries — which is related to Him as Libra is related to man. And just as man turns his ego upwards to Libra, so does this Being radiate His very Self over our sphere in sacrifice. This Being is called the “Mystical Lamb,” for Lamb and Aries are the same; therefore the description ‘Sacrificial Lamb’ or ‘Ram’ is given to Christ. Christ belongs to the cosmos as a whole. His I, his Ego, reaches to Aries and thus He becomes Himself the “Great Sacrifice,” is related with the whole of mankind and in a certain sense the beings and forces present on the earth are His creations. The configuration of forces is such that He could become the Creator of these beings in the constellation of Aries, or the Lamb. The designation “Sacrificial Lamb” or “Mystical Lamb” is drawn from the heavens themselves.
This is one of the aspects revealed to us when from our circumscribed existence we look up into the heavens and perceive the interworking of heavenly forces and beings in cosmic space. Gradually we begin to realize that the forces streaming from heavenly body to heavenly body are akin to those forces which stream from one human soul to another as love and hate. We perceive soul-forces streaming from star to star and learn to recognize the heavenly script which records for us what is wrought and effected by those forces in cosmic space.