7 November 1911, Dornach
You will have gathered from our last lecture how extremely difficult it is to describe the early condition of our evolution before our own Earth came into being. For we have seen that we must first of all build up concepts and ideas through which we may reach those strange and distant conditions of the evolution of our world. I have already called attention to the fact that the description in my Occult Science of the period of ancient Saturn, as well as that of the following embodiments of our Earth is not only not exhaustive, but that, in a sense, we had to be satisfied (in order not to startle the public, to whom the book is accessible) with clothing the subject in pictures taken from what is near at hand and familiar. The description given there is in no respect incorrect, but it is very deeply immersed in Maya and Illusion; and we must first work our way through the illusion in order to penetrate further into the truth of the matter. For instance, the old Saturn period is described (and this is quite correct within certain limits) as a heavenly body whose essential parts did not consist of what we know as earth, water and air, but of ‘heat.’ So, too, in first speaking of ‘space,’ that also is merely a pictorial description; for, as we saw in the last lecture, ‘time’ itself did not even exist. When we speak of ‘space’ we are speaking pictorially. Of space there was none in our sense. And time first came into being on Saturn itself. When we carry our thought back to ancient Saturn we are absolutely in the realm of spaceless eternity. When, therefore, something is said to call up a picture before our minds, we must be clear that it is only a picture. If we could have observed the space of ancient Saturn we should have found no substance dense enough to be called gas, nothing but heat and cold.
In reality we could not speak of coming from one part of space into another, but only the sensation of passing through warmer and colder conditions; so that even the clairvoyant, when he transports himself back to the time of Saturn, receives the impression of being in spaceless ebb and flow of heat. That is only the outer veil of the Saturn condition. For this ‘heat’ or ‘fire’ as it is called in occultism, is concealed from us in the fundamental depths of its being; and we have seen that spiritual achievements formed in truth the very existence of ancient Saturn; and we have formed a picture of the spiritual deeds then existing. We have said that the Spirits of Will or Thrones achieved sacrificial acts; so that when we look back to the concrete occurrences on Saturn, we have the Cherubim and the sacrifice flowing forth from the Thrones. Sacrifice streamed from the Thrones to the Cherubim. And it is these sacrificial deeds seen from without, as it were, which appear as ‘heat.’ Conditions of heat are the external expression — speaking in a general sense — the external physical expression of sacrifice, and throughout the world, wherever heat is perceptible it is the outer expression of what lies behind it. Conditions of heat are the sacrificial acts of beings. Thus in describing heat we must say ‘Cosmic beat is the manifestation of Cosmic sacrifice, or of Cosmic sacrificial deeds.’
For we have seen that from this sacrificial deed offered by the Thrones to the Cherubim is brought to birth that which we call time: though I have already called attention to the fact that ‘brought to birth’ is a modern term and does not quite apply. For time was not then that abstraction man now accepts as time, but a totality of beings, the Spirits of Personality, whom we have therefore come to recognise as ‘Time-Spirits.’ The Time-Spirits are the true ancient time — and they are the children of the Thrones and the Cherubim. The condition by means of which the Beings of Time originated on ancient Saturn was sacrifice. Thus, in order to obtain an actual comprehension of what lies behind, when it is said: Ancient Saturn consists of ‘heat,’ we do not merely require external, physical concepts (for ‘heat’ is a physical concept), but we must acquire concepts which can only be derived from the soul-life itself, from the ethical wisdom-laden life of the soul. No man can know what heat is who is not able to form a conception of what it means; to be ready to sacrifice what he has, everything he possesses, indeed, not only everything he possesses, but also what he himself is. The sacrifice of the individual being, the soul's determination to renounce individual being, so regarding it as to be ready to devote its best to the welfare of the world, wishing to keep back nothing of the beat for itself, but gladly to offer it in sacrifice on the altar of the universe; if this becomes a living idea permeating our soul, it will gradually lead to the understanding of what lies behind the phenomenon of beat. If it is to be recognised as what in our modern life — even today — is bound up with the conception of sacrifice, it is hardly thinkable that anyone sacrificing himself with understanding ever does so against his own will. A sacrifice offered against the will argues some compelling motive; there must be compulsion. But this would not apply to what we are now discussing. The sacrifice that flows forth from a being as a matter of course is what is meant here. And if a man should make a sacrifice, not because he is forced to do so by any external motive, not because he hopes to gain something by so doing, but because he feels within him the impulse to sacrifice, it is then unthinkable that he should feel anything but inner warmth of bliss. If we feel ourselves glowing with this inner warmth of bliss, it is an expression of what can be described in no other way than by saying that the one making the sacrifice feels himself warmed through and through, glowing with bliss. In this way it is possible for us to feel the glow of sacrifice in the outer Cosmic heat. He alone understands what really is who can grasp the thought: Whenever heat appears in the world there is always in some way underlying it something of a soil-spiritual nature which is behind the heat and brings about the warmth through the special bliss. He who can feel all this about the warmth will gradually arrive at the reality of what is concealed behind the illusion of warmth, behind the phenomenon of heat.
Now if we wish to penetrate further, from the life of ancient Saturn to that of the Sun, we must again first form an idea by which we can imagine the substance of the ancient Sun — not our present Sun. For when we read in Occult Science that ancient Sun re-organised heat by adding to it air and light, that again is depicted merely by an external phenomenon. Just as behind the heat we must seek for the glow of sacrifice of the Spirits of Will, so must we look behind ‘air’ and ‘light’ for something ethical if we wish to understand the air and the light which are added to the heat on ancient Sun. Now we can only obtain a feeling of this substance of the ancient Sun through something of a spiritual psychic nature which we may experience in our souls.
We can describe it in the following way as a soul-experience. Let us imagine that a man were to see a real, genuine act of sacrifice, or that he were to picture to himself what we described in the last lecture as the sacrificial act of the Thrones, the Thrones offering up their sacrifice to the Cherubim — so that he is moved by the picture of the beatific sacrifice which he contemplates and which awakens the life in the soul. What would our souls feel through either the vision of the sacrificing Beings themselves, or by the picture we make truly living in our souls? If the feelings of this man are vivid, if the beatific sacrifice does not leave him unaffected, he will feel a profound feeling of bliss at the vision of the sacrifice; he will feel in his soul that it is the most beautiful deed, the most beautiful experience that can be called forth in our souls, the vision of the beatitude of sacrifice! We should be soul-less lumps if this experience did not arouse in the soul a passionate desire to understand inwardly with intensest reverence, what the beatitude of sacrifice is — if we did not learn the spirit of utter devotion. Sacrifice is devotion transformed into activity. The contemplation of active practical devotion may call forth the attuning of the soul's being to self-surrender, to the casting off of self, to self-effacement. Imagine this spirit of disinterested casting off of self wholly flooding the soul through the vision; then we have with this spirit that which can come nearer to us for our understanding, inasmuch as without such a spirit — without at least a hint, a foretaste of such a spirit — never could we really attain to what the higher knowledge gives. He who is unable to feel this spirit of self-surrender can never attain to higher knowledge. For what would be the opposite of this spirit? It would be self-will, assertion of individual will. These are, as it were, the two opposite Cosmic poles; devoted absorption in that which is contemplated, and self-willed assertion of individuality. These are two great opposites. Personal will fatally opposes the permeation of the higher Self with wisdom. In ordinary life we only know self-will in the form of prejudice, and prejudices always destroy the higher insight. But we must imagine what is here called self-surrender as intensified; for this can only be conceived when a man has worked his way up to the higher worlds. There he must be able to experience this casting off of self — at least as a frame of mind. Therefore it must always be emphasised that we can never attain higher knowledge so long as we work after the fashion of ordinary science and trivial thought. Let us be clear; ordinary science and everyday thought work out whatever self-will has created by means of the ordinary will of man, through the inherited or educated sensations and feelings. We can deceive ourselves greatly as to this. For instance, people may say: ‘Suppose one takes up any science, such as that set forth in spiritual science or Theosophy; I will not accept anything that does not agree with my thought, I will accept nothing unproved.’ Certainly we should not accept anything unproved. But neither do we advance a single step further if we only accept what is proved. And a man who wishes to be clairvoyant will never say that he can only accept what he has first proved. He must be completely free of all self-seeking and must wait what comes to him from the Cosmos, and which can only be designated by the word ‘grace.’ From the grace which illuminates he expects everything. For how do we acquire clairvoyant knowledge? Only by eliminating everything we have ever learnt. As a rule a man says, I have my own opinion. But what he ought to say is: This only comes because I have revived what my ancestors have thought, or what my desires have aroused in me, etc. For there can never be any question of these being his own opinions, and those who attach most value to their own opinions are not in the least aware that they are being led by the leading-strings of their prejudices. All this must be done away with when we wish to attain to higher knowledge. The soul must be empty able to wait quietly for what may enter into it from the concealed secret world free from space and time, free from things and deeds. And we must never believe that we can acquire any conception of clairvoyant knowledge except by creating a suitable frame of mind through which we may receive what may be offered to us as revelation or illumination, so that we can never expect anything to come to us except from the grace which approaches and brings gifts.
How then does such knowledge reveal itself? How is that which comes to us revealed when we have prepared ourselves sufficiently? It reveals itself as the feeling of being endowed with grace through the gifts that come to meet us from the spiritual world. If we wish to describe what thus approaches us, bringing us grace and pouring knowledge into us, we can only make use of the expression: it is that which comes to meet us, an active inspiring with grace; a bestowing, a giving. Let us grasp the nature of a being chiefly characterised by what I have just described, so as to say of him: he is a bestower, a giver, an offerer of gifts. Such a being whose chief characteristic is the showering of grace around him, the shedding forth of grace from himself. Let our conception of this being show us that in order to attain this possibility of giving forth grace there must be the vision of the sacrifice made by the Thrones to the Cherubim; let us suppose that he was present when the sacrifice was being offered. Let us clearly imagine a being such as this, who through having had this vision is stimulated to shower the gifts of his grace around him. Suppose we were to see a rose and were charmed by it, experiencing the feeling of one enraptured by what we call ‘beautiful.’ Suppose another being through the vision of what we have described as the sacrifice by the Thrones to the Cherubim, were inspired to pour forth into the world, to offer to the world as a gift, everything ho possessed — we should thus be describing those beings spoken of in Occult Science as Spirits of Wisdom who on the Sun were added to the beings with whom we become acquainted on ancient Saturn. If now we were to put the question, what is the character of these Spirits who appeared on the Sun in addition to the Saturn Spirits? We must reply: The principal characteristic of these spirits is the virtue of giving, of pouring forth grace. If we wish to find a title for them, we must say: These are the Spirits of Wisdom, the great Bestowers, the great Givers of the Universe. Just as we have called the Thrones ‘The great Sacrificers,’ so we must say of the Spirits of Wisdom, they are ‘the great Givers’ who so devote their gift that it weaves and lives in the universe, flowing out into it and first bringing about its order.
That is the activity of the Spirits of Wisdom on the Sun, they endow their environment with their own being. And what is presented to the external view when we look up and wish to have a higher sense-perception of what takes place on the Sun?
When we look at it, it is as described in Occult Science. Besides heat, the Sun consists externally of air and of light. But when we say this, it is as though someone were to say: ‘In the distance I see a grey cloud.’ And if he were an artist he would paint the impression; but if he were to come nearer he might perhaps see, instead of the grey cloud, a swarm of midges. Thus in reality, what he took for a grey cloud is nothing but a number of living beings. In like manner do we confront the ancient Sun-existence. Seen from afar it appears as the illusion of a body consisting of light and air; but if we approach nearer, we have no longer a body of light and air but it appears as the great bestowing virtue of the Spirits of Wisdom. And no one learns the real nature of air who only describes it according to its external physical properties. That is only maya and illusion, only outer manifestation. For wherever there is air in the world, the deeds of the Spirits of Wisdom lie behind it. Weaving, active air means the manifestation of the bestowing virtue of the macrocosm, and only he looks rightly upon air who says: ‘I see air in this way,’ in reality within it something is bestowed by the Spirits of Wisdom, something streams out into their environment.
And now we know what was meant by describing ancient Sun as consisting of air. We now know that what appears outwardly as air is a gift which the Spirits of Wisdom allow to flow forth from their own being. But now something wonderful is seen by the clairvoyant. We must clearly understand how we obtain from our own soul-life a still more accurate idea of this virtue of giving. Let us bring home to our mind the feeling we may ourselves have if through the above-described mode of devotion we are able to permeate ourselves with a perception, with an idea; such an idea may produce in us a distinct perception of which the best is the artistic longing to master colour or form in some way or other, to send it forth into the world, thus to give to the world something having an independent existence. We may describe the nature of such a capacity of giving by saying that productivity and creative activity is connected with it; this giving is self-creative. Anyone who has an idea and feels that he can give it forth for the good of the world, and can represent it in a work of art, has the right conception of this productivity of the virtue of giving. This it is which as air weaves through the Sun. When we think of this creative idea in the mind of the artist, and how it imprints itself into matter (besides everything else), this is the spiritual being of air. Wherever there is air we are concerned with it in some such way. But from the living productivity having been on the Sun, proceeds the following.
Let us hold firmly in mind that on ancient Saturn the Spirits of Time had been born, therefore ‘time’ could be present on the Sun; for it came over from Saturn. Thus on ancient Sun there was the possibility of giving, which could not have been found on ancient Saturn. For just imagine. How could there have been any giving if there had been no time? It would not have been possible, for giving must include acceptance, the one is not to be thought of without the other. Thus giving must consist of two actions, giving and accepting, otherwise giving has no object. On the Sun, however, giving and accepting occupied a peculiar relation to one another, for — as time was already there — the gifts offered to the environment on ancient Sun had been, as it were, stored up in time: as it were, guarded in time so that the Spirits of Wisdom pour forth their gift — and it endures. But now something must enter to accept this. This occurs comparatively speaking at a later time than the gifts of the Spirits of Wisdom. They give at an earlier moment, and that which is necessarily connected with receiving appears later. We can only obtain a correct conception of this if here too we use our own soul-experience as a foundation.
Suppose you are trying very hard to understand something, or to form some sort of thought. Suppose you have formed the thought. The next day you will make your mind as clear as possible so that the thought you formed yesterday may come back into it. What you formed yesterday is received by you to-day. Thus it was on ancient Sun; what was given at an earlier time was guarded till a later moment and was then received. What then was this acceptance? It was a deed, an occurrence only distinguished from the other occurrence in that it occurred later. The giving comes from the Spirits of Wisdom. Who then accepts? If there is to be an acceptance there must be someone to accept! In the same way as the Spirits of Time arose from the sacrifice of the Thrones to the Cherubims on ancient Saturn — through an act of nativity — so through ‘an act of giving’ to the world by the Spirits of Wisdom on the Sun, the Spirits we call Archangels or Archangeloi, came into being. They are these who accept on ancient Sun. But they receive in a very special way, for they do not retain for themselves the gift received from the Spirits of Wisdom, but reflect it, just as a mirror reflects an image. Thus the task of the Archangels on the Sun was to collect at a later epoch what had been given earlier, what was still there and could be reflected by the Archangels. Thus we have on the Sun an earlier act of giving and a subsequent accepting, but this accepting is a reflection back. Just suppose that the earth were not as it is now, but that what occurred at an earlier age could be reflected again at the present time. We actually know that something of the sort does take place. We are now living in the fifth post-Atlantean age of civilisation, when the events of the third, the ancient Egyptian-Chaldean age are being reflected. What formerly was received is now reflected. Everything that formerly existed is recapitulated. So that we have to think of the Archangels on the one side and as the recipients on the other the Spirits of Wisdom who in the ancient Sun-period were the bestowers. From this something quite special arises, which can only be properly conceived by thinking of a globe complete in itself and radiating forth from its centre that which is given. It radiates out to the periphery — whence it is radiated back to the centre. Thus we have to think of what comes from the Spirits of Wisdom as proceeding from the centre; this radiates forth in all directions, is collected by the Archangels and reflected back. What is thus reflected back into space is the gift from the Spirits of Wisdom. It is light that re-conducts the radiations of the Spirits of Wisdom, and the Archangels are at the same time creators of light. Light is not in the least the external illusion presented to us; but wherever light appears we have the gifts of the Spirits of Wisdom radiated back to us. And the beings whose existence must be presumed behind all light are the Archangels. Hence we must say: Wherever light appears to us, behind it are the Archangels; but they are only able to ray forth light to us because they reflect back what has streamed out to them — namely, the bestowing virtue of the Spirits of Wisdom.
In this way we obtain a picture of ancient Sun: We think of a centre in which is focussed what came over from ancient Saturn; the sacrificial acts of the Thrones to the Cherubim. Absorbed in contemplation of these acts of sacrifice are the Spirits of Wisdom. This vision causes them to radiate forth from themselves that which is their real being: streaming, flowing wisdom is the virtue they give. However, as this is radiated through by ‘time’ it is sent forth and sent back again, so that we have a globe, inwardly illuminated by the virtue returning to it; for we must not think of the ancient Sun as outwardly but as inwardly luminous, because the Spirits of Wisdom radiate outwards. Thus something new is created which we may describe as follows: Let us imagine the Spirits of Wisdom as sitting at the centre of the Sun absorbed in contemplation of the vision of the sacrificing Thrones; and by reason of this vision, radiating forth their own being; and receiving back their radiating being which they sent forth, receiving it reflected back from the surface, so that they receive it back as light. Everything is illuminated. What then do they receive back! Their own being surrendered by them became a gift to the Macrocosm, it was their inner being. Now it rays back to them; their own being meets them coming back from outside. They see their own inner being outspread in the Cosmos — and reflected back as light, as the reflection of their own being.
The inner and the outer are the two opposites which we now meet. The earlier and the later are transformed into the inner and the outer; and spate is born! Space comes into existence through the bestowing virtue of the Spirits of Wisdom on ancient Sun. Before that, space could only have pictorial value. Now we have space — but consisting at first of only two dimensions. There was as yet no above and below, no right or left, nothing but an outer and an inner. — In reality these opposites appear at the end of ancient Saturn; but they repeat themselves as space-creation on ancient Sun. And if we wish to obtain a conception of all these occurrences, as we did of the last when the picture appeared before our soul of the sacrificing Thrones, giving birth to the Spirits of Time, we must not even picture a body consisting of light, for the light within it was only a reflection. We must think of it as a globe of inner space, in the centre of which the picture of Saturn is recapitulated: the Thrones as Spirits as though kneeling before the Cherubim, those winged beings, sacrificing their own being, and, in addition to these, the Spirits of Wisdom, absorbed in the vision of the sacrifice. And now it is also possible to have the vision of the heat of the sacrifice being so transmitted that we may think of it objectively as the incense of sacrifice, as air ascending from the sacrifice as incense. We obtain a complete picture if we imagine: the sacrificing Thrones kneeling before the Cherubim, and as though participating, the Spirits of Wisdom, absorbed in the contemplation of what they perceive in the centre of the Sun as the sacrifice of the Thrones, and thereby ascending in their conception to the idea of the sacrificial incense pouring forth and spreading out on all sides, and finally condensing, while from its clouds proceed the figures of the Archangels,--who reflect back the incense from the periphery as light, illuminating the interior of the Sun, returning the gift of the Spirits of Wisdom, and in this way creating the sphere of the Sun. This sphere consists of the outpoured gift of glowing heat and sacrificial incense. At the outer periphery are the Archangels, the creators of the light, who, later depict what was first on the Sun; it then returns as light. What then, do these Archangels preserve! They guard the beginnings, what was formerly there, the earlier. The gifts they receive they reflect. That which was there in the beginning they radiate forth at a later time, and in as much as they do this, they are the Angels of the Beginning, because they bring into activity in later times what was previously there. ‘Archangeloi’ ‘Messengers of the Beginning’!
It is very wonderful when such a word arises from the depths of true occult knowledge and we remember that this word comes across to us from primeval traditions, along the path of the School of Dionysius the Areopagite, who was the pupil of Paul. It is wonderful to see that this word is so deeply stamped that when we evolve it again, independently of what is written, what stands there arises before us. And we then feel ourselves united with the ancient holy schools of Initiation-Wisdom, of the science of Initiation, so that we feel as though this ancient time were streaming into us, we picture it with understanding after having ourselves created the possibility of accepting it Independently of what we have heard. Anyone feeling even a little of the spirit of these old expressions which have descended to us without our having paid attention to them, will feel himself within the current of the mighty power of the Spirits of Time passing through humanity. What is thus felt in contemplation of these things is in marvellous connection with the whole human evolution, it makes us feel one with it. The Archangels preserve the memorial of the primordial beginnings; but whatever takes place on any one planet is always recapitulated later, only when it occurs later there is always something added to it. So that we meet with the being of the Sun again in what we find on our own earth.
The whole conception, the whole feeling that we are thus able to acquire — which gives us a picture of the sacrifice of the Thrones, of the Cherubim receiving the sacrifice, of the glow given forth by the sacrifice, of the sacrificial incense spreading out as air, of the light radiated back by the Archangels who preserve for later ages what took place at the beginning — this feeling is something that can call up inns a true understanding of everything connected with the creation of such a feeling, with the sacrifice proceeding from it.
We have now contemplated in a more spiritual sense, what I have just described as a soul-sphere whereas previously we considered it from a physical aspect. And we shall now see that the Being who appeared on earth as the Christ-being when we grasp the idea of the bestowing virtue, the grace-bestowing virtue in its reflection in the light of the universe in the inner substance of the Sun-body, which was permeated and illuminated through and through by this light. If we can exalt our conception of what has just been described and transform that into an imagination, bearing in mind that something of all that was brought to the earth by the Christ-Being is on the earth, fulfils its life on the earth, we can then go still more deeply into the actual spiritual nature of the Christ-impulse. We are then able to understand the dim idea that can stir in a human soul on hearing such an account, when it dawns on the soul that what has been described may in a certain sense again come to life on earth. Just imagine all that has been described of the Sun as absolutely concentrated in the soul of one Being, suppose all this gathered up and taken away to reappear at a later period and so to reappear and work, that He would bring with Him an extract of what came into existence through the ancient primordial sacrificial deed and the smoke of sacrifice through the light-creating time and the bestowing Virtue and would reflect it out of the universe of radiant light. Imagine all this concentrated in one soul, think of that soul as giving all this to the Earth-existence; around Him are assembled those who now as earth-beings are destined to radiate this back again and preserve it for the remainder of the earth-existence. In the centre is the One Who comes forth from the Sacrifice and Who bestows through the sacrifice, and around Him are gathered those who are to receive it — on the one side all that the sacrifice is and everything belonging to it, as it were translated into earthly life; on the other hand the possibility of destroying the sacrifice for everything that can be given to the human being in the way of Divine grace may be either accepted or rejected. If we think of all this as embodied in an intuition, we can, on looking at the ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci, have somewhat the following feeling. The entire Sun with the sacrificial Beings the Beings of Bestowing Virtue, the Beings of warmth-giving bliss, of the radiant light, spiritually grasped, radiated back by those selected to preserve into later ages what belongs to the earlier, and so ordained for the earth that it may also be rejected by the traitor. We may feel that this is the Earth-Being, in as much as the Sun-Being reappears on the Earth. If this is felt — not in an external intellectual manner, but in true artistic way; then something of the actual driving-force of such a great work of art can be felt, a work which reflects, as it were, the extract of the Earth existence. When we see this picture again, and see how the Christ grows forth from the Sun-Sphere, we shall better understand what I have often said: If a spirit were to come down to the Earth from Mars, while he would not be able to understand everything that he saw here, he would understand the actual mission of the Earth if he allowed the ‘Last Supper’ of Leonardo da Vinci to work upon him. The inhabitant of Mars would then see that the Sun-existence must lie concealed within that of the Earth; and thereby everything he might be told concerning the meaning of the Earth would become clear to him. He would understand that the Earth had a meaning, and he would know what was involved. He would say to himself: ‘What is taking place on the Earth may perhaps be only of importance to one part of it: but could the deed represented in the colouring of this picture really take place? When I concentrated on the central Figure with those other around Him, I feel what the Spirits of Wisdom felt on the Sun, and what is re-echoed here in the words; “This do in remembrance of me.”‘ The earlier preserved in the later: this saying will only be comprehensible to us when we grasp it in its whole cosmic connection, as we have just learnt to do.
In the next lecture it will be our task to study the Christ-Being in the spiritual nature of the Sun, in order to pass on from that to the spiritual nature of the Moon.