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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Awareness - Life - Form
GA 89

About the book of ten pages

3 April 1905, Berlin

The last time we met I told you that we need to use allegory if we are to put things clearly in occultism. 111Lecture of 27 March 1905 on symbols reflecting original wisdom. The world we have around us has only been like this for a relatively short period of time. Our forebears lived under utterly different conditions in Atlantean and Lemurian times. Today people cannot have any idea of this. However, if we want to understand today’s world rightly, we must rise to the concepts and ideas... [gap in notes]. Speech and language is not very old; it only developed in Atlantean times. Our Lemurian forebears did not have speech, they had a kind of singing, producing sounds with great magical powers. They might perhaps sound unarticulated to people today, but went beyond anything we can find in the highest animals today as far as beauty and melodiousness were concerned. These sounds could make flowers grow faster, for instance, or set dead objects in motion. We cannot compare them with our ordinary speech today. We are therefore unable to speak in our language of something which is among the most sublime things.

In the occult schools people therefore always used an allegorical language and alphabet. Those allegorical signs are regular formulas which one must first learn to understand. One formula, for example, is the book of ten pages. What is this book of ten pages?

The book of ten pages is something very real. Its content is great, and the formulas only appear to be simple. It is something very real for the occult student, but it is read in a different way from other books, where the human being, with his ordinary understanding, must create a word from letters and a sentence from words. The occult investigator thinks differently. His thinking grasps wholes, getting a complete overview of major complexes; it is empirical living experience, a vision of higher realities. People develop a common idea on the basis of individual details. The occult investigator gains an intuitive idea all at once from inner experience and does not have to depend on learning many individual details. It is just the way someone being able to have the ‘lion idea’ once they have seen a lion, for instance.

The occult investigator thus also gains the concept of astral and mental spirits in one go, for he sees these things together. There are archetypes for all things of the spirit. Just as a painter may have a particular intuitive image in his head and is able to paint a hundred pictures based on it, so there are archetypal images for all things on the higher planes, and clairvoyants see them. Reading the archetypes of things, in the spiritual ground and origin, is in occult terms called ‘reading in the book of ten pages’. People were able to read in this book of ten pages in every occult school; everyone was able to read in it even at the time when humanity did not yet have the vestment of a physical body.

Let us go back to Lemurian times when the human being vested himself in physical matter. He then lived in ideas that were all images. He did not see these outside but inside himself; he would feel a degree of warmth, or bright colour images arising in his soul as he approached another human being, for instance. It was like a lively dream, in images, but not conscious. Only the teachers and leaders of humanity had a real overview of the things which others only felt surging up and down in a twilit soul. Their vision was not limited, everything lay spread out before them as in a tableau; they only had to turn their attention to it. This is the idea of that all-encompassing oneness which presented itself to the initiate and the occult student. Today we cannot see everything at once because we use our senses as instruments of perception. People would have seen no difference between New York and Berlin at that time, for instance. Anyone who sees things outside his physical body, finds that spatial differences present themselves only through the senses. The whole of modem science consists of individual details which are put together. Anything that happens in the world of the spirit is not discovered bit by bit. Once a particular level of higher insight has been gained, it all lies open before one.

There are ten levels, and they are the ten pages of the book. Let me give you an idea of them.

What does it say on the first page? There is a lot there, but it has to be gained through living experience. Think of a flower. If we planted it this year, we’ll see that it has produced a root, and that stem, branches, leaves and flowers develop and finally the seed which we put in the soil again. We don’t see anything of the plant in the seed, but it is there inside it, contracted into a point. Look at a tulip, how it is contracted to a point and then spreads out again. We see essential tulip nature alternate between tremendous expansion and contraction into point-nature, as if squeezed together to make a nothing. This is something we can see everywhere in the world, in nature and in the human being. A whole solar system will also unfold, go through a sleep state, and then wake up again. In theosophy, we call the two states manvantara = expansion, and pralaya = shrink down to a point. There is no difference for external perception between seed of solar system and of flower; they do not exist in that case. Our present cosmic system will also contract to such a point one day; but the whole of life will be condensed in this, and it will well forth again from it. If we enter in our minds into this manifold life of the cosmos condensed to a point, we have an idea of the divine creative power which creates out of nothing. Anyone wishing to penetrate the secrets of the universe must learn to concentrate his thoughts in a point, not a dead but a living point which is nothing and everything at the same time. It is not easy to enter into this general dormant state of nature which is zero life and at the same time also all life; one must have felt, thought and willed it. One must have thought this through before one is able to read the remaining pages.

Reading the first page is to grasp this oneness of time, space and energy and immerse oneself in it. A truly wonderful description is given in a verse in the Dzyan book. 112Verse I, in H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine.

The second page shows us the duality everywhere in the world. You find this wherever you go in the natural world—light and shade, positive and negative, male and female, left and right, straight and not straight, good and evil. Duality is deeply rooted in the nature of all evolution, and anyone who wishes to understand nature must be very clear in his mind about this duality. We only come to understand the world when we see the duality in our own lives. The occult student must make it an obligation for himself to learn to think in such dualities. He should never think of only the one, but always the two together. If he thinks of his relationship to the divine principle, for instance: ‘a divine I lives in me’, this is only one thing, and a second thing belongs to it: ‘and I live in the divine I.’ Both are true. The occult student must say to himself: ‘The human being is a sensual nature but he will be a spiritual entity; I was a spiritual entity once and had to become a sensual one.’

We can only perceive all truth if we make it an inner obligation never to think of just one but always of two. People who learn to think in such dualities are thinking in the right, objective way.

This is reading the second page in the book of ten pages. You will find this duality presented many times in the mythology of ancient Germanic gods and also in Gnostic works. 113See G. R. S. Mead, note 81. Some crude ideas have ... [gap in notes], seeing above all the duality between the male and female principle and ascribing everything to it. In reality, however, the male and female principle is just a special case of a much higher duality. To make this special case the explanation for everything is to blindfold yourself, to shut out the spiritual reality and cling to the lowest aspect.

The third page presents the triad. Threefold ideas may be found anywhere. The human being is threefold, consisting of body, soul and spirit. Gnostics speak of Father, Word and Spirit. In Egyptian culture we have the three deities Osiris, Isis and Horus. The triad holds an important secret. Anyone who gets in the habit of translating duality into the triad gains something that leads to understanding the whole world. To think the world through in its threefold nature is to penetrate it with wisdom.

Fourth page. Pythagorean square. I perceive the human being as fourfold, consisting of body, soul and spirit, with the fourth principle, self-awareness, dwelling within them. Pythagoras therefore said ... [gap in notes]. Human nature which is at a lower level develops higher nature out of itself. This is the secret of the four evolving from the three. We find this fourfold nature in all entities. To the all-encompassing eye of the great initiate who surveys all periods of time, all entities are alike. The human being is a fourfold entity living on the physical plane. The lion does not live on the physical plane with its fourfold nature; here it has only its threefold nature—physical body, ether body and astral body; its I, as fourth principle, lives in the world of the spirit.

Higher nature only appears as sensual nature on a lower level. When human beings will be able to govern their physical bodies in every fibre, they will be atman; when they govern the ether body they will be budhi; when they govern the astral body, manas. That is fourfold nature: the three principles of lower nature which will one day be transformed into higher nature. Four-foldness is to be found in all entities existing in this world. To the eye of the great initiate who surveys all periods of time, all entities are alike, only different to [gap in notes]. How does a lion differ from a human being? To the human eye, a lion is lower than a human being, and this is because human beings have limited vision. They live on the physical plane today, whereas the lion has left its spirit in the mental and its soul in the astral sphere.

Human beingLion
4 mental4 I (comes from world of spirit)
3 astral3 astral
2 etheric2 etheric
1 physical1 physical

Plants and minerals also have fourfold nature. The plant has only its physical body and ether body on the physical plane. Plants and minerals have the other parts of their fourfold nature in the world of the spirit. But human beings, animals, plant and minerals all have fourfold nature. The student of occultism must always live this inwardly if he wants to read the fourth page. Fifth page.

On reading the fifth page, everything becomes manifest which the human being projects into the world like a shadow image. This is more than just four-foldness. He begins to venerate. It is called ‘idolatry’. The human being is able to think and form ideas. When he begins to reflect on things, he ascribes divine causes to them. Myths arise in which the human being relates the supersensible to the sensible. The world of myth and legend presents ancient cultures in many different ways. The whole process lies open before the initiate, and the moment comes when he begins to perceive the thread which runs through all myths.

The horse, for instance. What is its meaning? It is an entity which has remained behind on a particular level, whilst the physical human being has gone beyond this in his evolution. There was, however, a moment in Hyperborean times when the human being had first of all to develop the potential for intelligence. Potentials evolve a long time in advance. I have told you that all higher development has a price, and this is that something else remains behind. If one wants to rise, another has to go down. At that time, when the human being developed the potential for intelligence, this was only possible because human nature eliminated something which later developed the horse nature. The horse evolved in Atlantean times, and human beings instinctively knew that their evolution was connected with the horse. Later this instinct became a myth. The Atlanteans had instinctive awareness of their intelligence being related to the horse, and the horse was therefore venerated as a symbol of intelligence during the first post-Atlantean period. Intelligence had to evolve in the early post-Atlantean periods. In Revelation, horses appear therefore when the seven seals have been removed. Ulysses invented a wooden horse.

Three things are needed if we want to understand myths. Firstly the myth must be taken literally, secondly it must be taken in an allegorical sense—which happens in religions—and thirdly we have to take them literally again in a higher sense. When this marvellous connection presents itself to the intuitive eye it is called ‘reading the fifth page’.

Sixth page. This contains the secrets of what human beings perceive to be the supersensible and which they seek. The ideals human beings create out of their own nature appear on this sixth page, for instance the great ideals of freedom, equality and brotherhood. On this sixth page, human nature comes together with something which does not yet exist, something human beings must struggle to gain—going beyond themselves in their activity and active will. ‘I love someone who asks the impossible.’ One learns to look to future states of humanity, to see the seeds of the future in the present. An initiate can read the sixth page the way John described the future states of humanity in Revelation.

Seventh page. The student comes to understand the secret and significance of the figure seven. Things evolve in seven stages because the three, on which the seven is based, is repeated, and they themselves are the seventh. The human being must learn to say to himself: ‘I am threefold, from this three a higher three must arise; that is the six.’ Starting from the three, he returns to a higher three, which is the six. He himself is the seventh. To understand this process is to read the seventh page.

We will speak of the eighth, ninth and tenth pages the next time. 114Rudolf Steiner never spoke of the 8th, 9th and 10th pages as he then went on a lecture tour and had to give a public lecture in Hamburg the following Monday. Below is Saint-Martin’s description of the book of ten pages.
‘These unutterable benefits were connected with the possession and understanding of a most precious book, one of the gifts humanity had received as part of existence. Although this book had only ten pages, it held all insights and all knowledge of what has been, what is and what will be, and human beings were able at that time to read in all ten pages of the book at once, taking it all in with just one look.
In his case, the book was still there for him, but he had lost the ability to read it easily, and could no longer get to know all its pages at once, but only one after the other. Yet he will never be wholly restored to his rights until he has studied them all; for although each of these ten pages contains specific knowledge belonging to that page only, they are nevertheless interrelated in such a way that it is impossible to have one of them perfectly in mind unless one has learned to know them all; and although I said that human beings could no longer read them except one after the other, each of their steps would lack certainty unless they had gone through them all in one, above all the fourth, which is the point of unification for them all.
This is a truth to which people have paid little heed, and yet it would be infinitely necessary for them to take them to heart and understand them; for they are all born with the book in their hand; and since the study and understanding of this book is the mission they must fulfil, we can judge how important it is for them not to take a wrong step with this.
However, they have been utterly remiss in this point; you find hardly any who may have noticed the essential connection between the ten pages of the book, so that they are inseparable in all ways. Some have stopped half-way, others on the third page, others on the first; hence atheists, materialists and deists have come forth; some had an inkling of the connection, but they did not understand the important distinction which had to be made between each of these pages, taking them to be all the same and of one kind, being pages of the one book.
What has been the consequence of this? It is this. Those who limited themselves to the one part of the book beyond which they did not have the courage to go, nevertheless maintained that they spoke according to the book, thinking to themselves that they understood it; and led astray by this, they considered themselves infallible in their doctrine, doing everything possible to make the world believe this. But these isolated truths, cut off from all nourishment, soon wilted in the hands of those who had thus isolated them, and nothing remained for these ignorant people but a vain spectre of knowledge, something they could not pretend was something solid or the truth unless they resorted to deceit.
This is indeed the source of all the errors we will have to examine in this treatise, and all the errors we have already touched on concerning the two opposite principles, the natural world, the laws of bodily entities, the different abilities of human beings, and the principles and origin of their religion and worship.
It will also be apparent to which part of the book the errors mainly relate; however, before we come to this, let us first consider the idea we must have to this incomparable book in its fullness, and to this end refer fully to the different kinds of knowledge and the different qualities of which each of its pages holds the knowledge.
The first had to do with the general principle, or the centre, from which all central points flow without cease.
The second with the occasional cause of the universe; of the dual bodily law on which it is based; with the law which is understood in two ways and functions in time; with the dual nature of the human being; and altogether with everything made up and evolved from two actions.
The third with the foundation of the body; with all the results and productions of all kinds; and here we have the number of the immaterial spirits that do not think.
The fourth with everything which is active; with the principle of all languages, both in time and outside time; with religion and worship; and here we have the number of the immaterial spirits that do think.
The fifth with idolatry and decay.
The sixth with the laws of generation and development in the temporal world, and with the natural division of the circle by the radius.
The seventh with the cause of the winds and with ebb and flood; with the geographical measure of man; with his true insight, and with the source spring of his intelligent or sensual productions.
The eighth with the temporal number of the element which is the only support, the only strength and the only hope of man, that is with the real, physical entity that has two names and four numbers, in so far as it is both active and intelligent, and extends its action over the four worlds. It was also concerned with justice, and the whole of legislative power; which encompasses the rights of princes and the authority of generals and judges.
The ninth with the evolution of the physical human being in the woman’s womb, and with the resolution of the general and specific triangle.
The tenth finally was the way and the complement of the nine that went before. It was without doubt the most essential and really the page without which none of those that went before would be known; for if you arrange all ten in circumference, in their numerical order, you find the most relationship between it and the first, from which all flows; and if you want to judge its importance, you must know that the originator of things is invincible exactly because of this page, for it is a barricade of wagons around him which no entity can cross.
Since this work therefore contains all knowledge which the human being may seek and the laws set for him, it is evident that he will never be able to gain any insight, nor ever fulfil his true mission unless he draws on this source; we also know now the hand which must guide him there, and that, if he is not able to walks the steps to this fruitful source by himself, he may nevertheless be certain to get there if he forgets his will and lets the will of the active and intelligent cause take effect, the cause which alone must act for him.’
The book of ten pages is an allegory, summing up in a few words what would otherwise need many words to describe. The principle of comprehensive life in abbreviation. Paracelsus said that a physician must read the whole of nature, he must pass nature’s examination, finding the word from the individual letters and not gain his wisdom only from books. 115See the lecture given in Berlin on 26 April 1906 [in German] in GA 54.

In our time, the spiritual principle had to move into the background; this had to be so that the great conquests of the physical plane would be possible, and perfection could be achieved in controlling the world perceived through the senses. Now the time approaches when humanity needs to go more deeply into the spiritual again. At present human beings are rushing towards a stage on the physical plane that could not be borne if spiritual life did not develop again. An image of how necessary it is for humanity to deepen their spirituality: You know the tremendous advances made for example in the theory of electricity. A tremendous power lives in these energies, and this means there is a possibility that humanity will abuse them. Humanity will master terrible powers which will be put into effect on the physical plane, and this in the not too far distant future. 116See also the lectures given in Berlin on 9, 16 and 23 December 1904, in The Temple Legend (note 22). They will be able, for instance, to cause detonations, explosions by remote control, with no one able to determine the originator. Humanity will have power. Woe, however, if they have not reached a high moral level and use those terrible powers for other than only good purposes! The masters who guide humanity foresaw that this time would come. It is the mission of theosophical teaching to prepare hearts and minds for what is coming, to warn them, and to show them the way and the goal.