The Influence of Spiritual Beings Upon Man
29 February 1908, Berlin
Today we shall deal with a subject that is connected with the vast far-reaching view into cosmic space that we entered upon in our last lecture. We shall go more closely into the spiritual evolution that lies within spatial and material evolution than we did before. In the last lecture we saw how spiritual beings guide those mighty evolutionary processes which ordinary physical science describes to us inaccurately, but Theosophy or spiritual science exactly and accurately.
We have seen how the separate planets, the separate bodies of our cosmic system, arise from a common original substance, and have recognized that spiritual beings of various kinds are active in all this evolution. We have pointed out too in former lectures how spiritual science does not see merely physical material objects in the bodies of our cosmic system, but linked with the physical and material, spiritual beings of various grades. These may be beings of the most exalted order who raise evolution, thus benefiting the whole system, or they may be spiritual beings of a lower kind who hinder and destroy. Yet we must be clear that what seems to be hindrance and destruction is in the long run again membered into the wisdom of the whole system. One might therefore say: When something apparently destructive, retarding and evil exists anywhere, then evolution in its whole course will be so wisely guided that even this evil, this destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good. Today however we want to bring about a living feeling of the existence of such spiritual beings as belong to the “creative beings” — considering first those of an exalted order. Man must work in evolution for a long time yet, before he ascends to the rank of a “creative” being. We will consider in particular those beings who participated in the structure of our cosmic system when the Earth began its evolution in our universe as Saturn.
The Earth began its evolution as Saturn and advanced through the Sun and Moon evolutions up to its present formation. Everything on that Saturn cosmic body was, however, quite different from the nature of our present earthly planet. On Saturn there were no solid rocky masses, what we call the mineral world in the modern sense, nor was there water in the modern sense, not even air; what was present at that time could only be compared with warmth among our elements today, with “fire,” as one says in occultism. You would certainly not get a right idea if you thought that this Saturn fire looked like the modern flame of gas or candle. To have the right conception you must call to mind what pulses up and down in your own body — you must recollect the fundamental difference existing between a lower creature of the animal world, which has preserved certain stages of evolution, and the human being. A lower creature has the warmth of its surroundings. An amphibian has no inner warmth of its own; it has the warmth of its surroundings. It is as cold or as warm as its surroundings. Man has his own internal, equable warmth, as indeed he must have. His organism must ensure that when it is cold outside, he can nevertheless maintain his warmth at a certain temperature, and you know that when disturbances such as fever etc. enter this warmth, the health of the whole body is disturbed as well. The point is that man has an inner degree of warmth and he must think of some underlying force that creates it. This force is not water, not the solid, not air, it is an element for itself, and this element alone was present on ancient Saturn, the first embodiment of our Earth. If you had gone for a walk at that time in universal space — naturally that is a phantasy but it helps to form an idea of the condition — you would not have seen Saturn, for in the earliest stage it sent out no light at all. To shed light the cosmic body must first become a sun, or be united with a sun and so become luminous. If you approached ancient Saturn you would have noticed in its neighborhood that there was warmth, you would think that there was a space filled with warmth, you would enter a space like an oven. The existence of ancient Saturn would have been realized through this force of warmth alone. It was a rarefied material sub-stance of which modern man can scarcely form a right idea — least of all a learned physicist — but it was present, a condition finer than gas, finer than air, and all that existed of man at that time, namely, the first rudiments of the physical body, consisted of this substance. If you could eliminate today everything except the warmth of your blood then you would have an idea of those first rudiments of the human being. That, however, could not be done, since one cannot live like that. Today with our mineral kingdom, fluid kingdom, etc., we cannot live as the human being lived on ancient Saturn. At that time one could do so. But today you must think away all that you have of juices, tissues, solid parts, even the air that you take in as oxygen. You must conceive solely and alone that which remains over — naturally in quite a different form — namely, the warmth contained in your blood: a physical body consisting only of warmth! It is a horrible idea for a modern natural scientist — but therefore one that is all the more correct and real.
Such was the rudimentary germ of man — his physical body. All the other beings which are on the earth today animals — plants — minerals — were not in existence on Saturn. Saturn at that time consisted solely of human germs which were clustered together like the tiny berries which form a blackberry. In this way the Saturn-globe was a great berry made up purely of tiny berries which were the human beings. If we were to examine the surroundings of Saturn somewhat as we test our earth's surroundings and find a mantle of air in which are structures of mist, clouds etc., we should find nothing of a material nature. We should find in the Saturn mantle spiritual substance, spiritual beings, and these were at a much higher level than man in his first rudiments.
We will now occupy ourselves with a definite order of beings who were linked with the Saturn existence. There we find the Spirits of Will, then the Spirits of Wisdom, Spirits of Movement, of Form, of Personality, and so forth. To-day we will turn our attention especially to the Spirits of Form for the reason that they have played an important role in the beginning of our evolution. From the whole ranks of spiritual beings who were present in the atmosphere and environment of Saturn, we will therefore select the Spirits of Form and be clear that they have gone through an evolution up to today, just as all beings go through an evolution. As man received his etheric body on the Sun, his astral body on the Moon, his ego on the Earth and has become more and more perfect, so have the Spirits of Form passed through their evolution.
These Spirits of Form had no physical body on Saturn, their lowest member was an etheric body which one can compare with the etheric body of man; thus we should have to think away completely the physical body in the Spirits of Form, and think of the lowest member of their being as the etheric body. Then these beings had an astral body, an ego, spirit-self or Manas, life spirit or Budhi, spirit man or Atma and an eighth member which is a stage higher than man can reach in the course of his evolution through the Earth's embodiments. These Spirits of Form therefore act externally on Saturn through their etheric body as man on Earth works externally through his physical body. They possess no hands through which they can work, no feet with which they can walk, for these are members of the physical body. But their etheric body manifests in such a way that they continuously ray in fructifying life-saps from the Saturn atmospheric mantle, which are of very rarefied matter. We can picture Saturn as we have described it, and from the environment — continuously and from all sides — fructifying life-saps streaming down like rain from the etheric bodies of the Spirits of Form. The nature of Saturn was such that it did not retain these fertilizing life-saps but rayed them back like a mirror. In this way arose the mirror pictures of Saturn of which I have spoken in earlier lectures, but now more exactly. You can picture the warmth sub-stance of Saturn perpetually receiving the rays of the etheric body of the Spirits of Form and raying these back again. We can form a rough picture of it, if we remember how the rain drips from the clouds down to earth, collects in the earth and rises up again as misty vapors. We must not however imagine this as having an interval of time, but picture the process as a continuous one; the rank luxuriant life-saps stream in and are reflected, so that the rudimentary physical bodies appear like mirror-pictures. They actually consist of mirror-pictures. You can form an idea of what was present on Saturn as the physical germ of man, if you imagine a person standing before you and you look into his eye; you send your light into the eye of the other, and your picture comes back to you rayed out of his eye. So it was with the Spirits of Form in the environment of ancient Saturn. They sent their life-bestowing saps down into the warmth masses of Saturn and their own form, their likeness, was reflected; this mirror likeness was the first rudiments of the human physical body. Man was thus, even on ancient Saturn, in the most literal sense a likeness of his Godhead.
If we now go on to the Sun which arose out of old Sat-urn, the advance was made through the fact that the Spirits of Form no longer have need of an etheric or life-body; they give up the etheric body. They no longer ray down the life-giving saps, they relinquish their etheric body and in this way the first physical germs of man were permeated with an etheric body. The etheric body which the human beings received on the Sun was formed, to begin with, from the etheric body of the Spirits of Form, — a portion of the etheric body of the Spirits of Form. These celestial beings mirrored themselves in the warm Saturn, and through the fact that they brought a sacrifice and created pictures, they have gradually grown more independent and capable of the greatest deed, namely, to lay aside their etheric body in sacrifice and to permeate with their own life-force that which they first formed as picture. If you could endow with life the reflection which rays to you from the eye of your fellow man, make it independent, so that it had its own life and could step out of the eye, then you would have a deed which the Spirits of Form accomplished in the transition from ancient Saturn to the Sun. This was a significant advance for our cosmic evolution.
You know of course — I will just mention this here — that all sagas and myths have a multiple meaning, and when we consider the true facts of world evolution in a spiritual sense, then the myths disclose their truth in a surprising way. This may be the case right here.
Let us look at the advance that took place from Saturn to Sun. On ancient Saturn the life-giving forces streamed in, were reflected and taken up again by the mantle, the atmosphere of Saturn. In the old Greek myth the warm globe of Saturn was called Gaea and the atmosphere Chronos. Now consider the myth: the life-giving forces of Chronos rayed in continually upon Gaea and were reflected and absorbed. It is Chronos continually swallowing his own children! One must feel the truth of such a myth; if it is not felt, one has not the right attitude to it. For just consider what it means: in hoary primitive ages of ancient Greece we find a myth that presents this truth to us in a wonderful picture. There is only one possible explanation of such a fact, namely, the most advanced individuals of mankind, who guided man's further development from the Mystery centres, had exactly the same knowledge of world evolution as we give out today in Theosophy. In the Ancient Mysteries they spoke of these things as we speak today; for the masses the truths were veiled in pictures and these pictures form what today we know as Mythology. In the face of such knowledge how extraordinary seem those people who believe that men have discovered truth only in the last forty years and that all knowledge possessed by men of earlier times is only childish fantasy. One must however describe it as a childish fantasy when it is emphasized again and again: “How marvellously advanced we are today!” That is the really childish picture!
So we advance from Saturn to Sun and consider the evolution of the Spirits of Form further. They have laid aside their etheric body, “exuded” it out of themselves and imparted it to the body of the Earth, inasmuch as the human bodies have permeated themselves with it. As the lowest member of their being they now have the astral body and their higher development means that they have not only one member above spirit-man or Atma, but a still further one. We must now describe their being as consisting of astral body, ego, spirit-self, life-spirit, spirit-man, an eighth and a ninth member which are beyond what man can attain in his completed seven-membered development. What do the Spirits of Form present as an “outside”?
The Spirits of Form have “trickled,” so to speak, the life-rain down on to Saturn. On the Sun they manifest through instincts, desires and passions raying into the Sun, through all that is anchored in the astral body. If someone had sat there and looked out into cosmic space, he would not have seen lightning flash or heard thunder pealing, but round him in the astral light he would have perceived the passions of spiritual beings — everywhere, all around him, passions, and you must not at all imagine only lower passions. These passions and emotions now worked creatively on the planet from without. If we consider the myths further we see the creative Titans within our earthly evolution, the creative passions which worked from out-side, from the spiritual airy circles of the Sun when this was a planet.
Now we advance to the Moon — the Sun is metamorphosed into the Moon. In the course of evolution this signifies that the Spirits of Form now lay aside their astral body also and that their lowest member is the ego. To describe their nature we should say: as the human being has the physical body for lowest member, so these Spirits of Form in the environment of the Moon have the ego as lowest member, then they have spirit-self, life-spirit, spirit-man, an eighth, ninth, and a tenth member. Thus they pre-sent their ego to the outer world. It is very remarkable, but so it is: they present externally pure ‘I’s, pure egos; they simply displayed sheer egos to the outside world. The whole activity in the surroundings of the Moon was as if one met with beings who revealed their whole character and individuality — and this was from the Moon's atmosphere inwards. Just imagine all your egos which are here in your physical bodies being suddenly freed from that and from etheric and astral body, imagine only your egos there as the lowest member, and that they could manifest them-selves through space. Think of yourselves on the old Moon and your egos outside in the universe, but in such a way that they were embedded in the spiritual substances, only the lowest members of the Spirits of Form working in out of the air, then you will have a picture of how the Spirits of Form express themselves as sheer egos out of space. They have given up to the human beings the astral body which they still had on the Sun, so that on the Moon man now consisted of physical body, etheric body and astral body.
We will now picture the human being of Saturn who has the first rudiments of the physical body. We must visualize hovering above him beings who are the Spirits of Form and have an etheric body, astral body, I, spirit-self, life-spirit, spirit-man, to the eighth member. Now we must think of the next stage. In the Sun-human-being we have the physical body and the etheric body. The etheric body had been instilled into man by the Spirits of Form, keeping their astral body, so that they had their astral body, their I, up to the ninth member. Then we pass on to the Moon.
We have man consisting of the physical, etheric, astral bodies. The astral body has been sacrificed to man by the Spirits of Form who then have as lowest member the I, and spirit-self, and so forth, up to the tenth member. All that we call ‘man’ has gradually flowed down out of the environment of the planet, has been put together, so to speak, from outside. All that is within was once outside, has entered into man from without.
Let us now follow evolution on the Earth itself: at the beginning man has the rudiments of his physical body, then his etheric, and astral bodies. The Spirits of Form came over from the Moon. Their lowest member is the I or ego. This they now sacrifice as well and with it fructify the human being in his rudimentary stage, so that the ego, as it appears on Earth, is a fertilizing force which streams out from the Spirits of Form, and these beings have now Spirit-Self or Manas as their lowest member.
If we wish to describe them we must say: Above us in the Earth's atmosphere there rule the Spirits of Form, their lowest member is Spirit-Self or Manas; in this they live and weave and they have sacrificed what they still possessed on the Moon — the ego working towards all sides, that ‘trickled’ down and fertilized the human being.
We will now follow the progress of man on the Earth itself. There one can point to the spot in man where the ego was trickled in, but today we will consider it only schematically. Man receives his ego. It comes in contact first of course with the astral body which surrounds him like an auric sheath, there the ego first flows in, interpenetrates the astral body. This takes place in what we call the Lemurian Age, in the middle of earthly evolution. In the Lemurian Age, in the course of long periods of time, different for each different human being, the ego drew into the astral body and fructified it. Let us picture this developing human being.
The physical body at that time did not consist of flesh and blood as it does today; it was a quite soft structure, even without cartilage, and was penetrated as if by magnetic currents. Then there was the etheric body and then the astral body which was fructified by the ego. We must imagine this fructification as being something like an indentation which occurred in the astral body, like a turned-in aperture. That is what actually took place, something like an opening arose at the top of the astral body through the inflowing of the ego, an opening as far as to the etheric body. (Fig. 1.) This was of great significance and produced an important result; the consequence was that the first dim perception of a physical outer world appeared. In earlier conditions man had perceived nothing but that which lived in him inwardly; he was as if hermetically sealed towards the outside. He was aware only of himself and what went on in him internally. Now for the first time there opened to him the sight of a physical outer world. But man was not yet quite independent, much was still regulated for him by other divine beings with whom he stood in connection. He could not immediately see all that was around him, as we do now; since only his astral body was opened he perceived only with that body. It was a quite dim clairvoyance, and when in this ancient primeval time the human being moved over the earth he perceived what was outside his body, he perceived if this were sympathetic or unsympathetic, beneficent or harmful. He perceived a color picture when he so moved about, a glaring-red, for instance, that arose as an auric color-picture, for it was his astral body that first opened. He knew that when a red picture appeared there was a being in the neighborhood that was dangerous to him. If a blue-red color met him, he knew that he could go towards it; thus he took his direction from these dim clairvoyant perceptions. He perceived only the soul elements, he could not perceive, for instance, what is present in the plants of today. He perceived only the soul-nature in the other human beings and in the animals, and the Group-souls, too. That was the first fertilizing with the ego.
The ego was gradually further developed and the fructifying element that entered the astral body began to permeate it more deeply so that the ego was increasingly present in the feelings of likes and dislikes. According as the ego expanded in this way in the astral body there arose what has been called in the book Theosophy the sentient soul. It is as if the fructifying ego spread its forces over the whole astral body, thereby producing the sentient soul. Here we still have to incorporate an important fact.
We have now seen a fairly normal advance of evolution. We have seen how the Spirits of Form on the Moon rayed in their lowest member, the ego, and how, when the Earth had arisen out of the Moon condition, they gave up the ego and fructified man with it. Now we know that certain beings on the Moon remained behind, beings who did not complete their development. What does that mean? It means that they had not advanced to the stage where they could let their ego stream out and fructify the human being. That they could not do. They still stood at the old Moon stage, when they worked with their ego into the atmosphere of the earth. There were laggard beings around man who worked on the earth as the Spirits of Form had done on the Moon. Man was surrounded in the earth's atmosphere by ego-beings who had not yet relinquished their egos. These beings now strove to accomplish on the earth what they had failed to do finally on the Moon. Man was thus exposed to influences that were not in the normal course of his evolution. These influences of the ego-spirits rayed into his astral body. While his astral body was molded through the in-trickling ego of the Spirits of Form, the ego-spirits, who were not at the stage of the Spirits of Form, rayed lower forces to him at the same time, lower than should have entered him in normal evolution. These lower forces brought it about that man divided into a higher and a lower part. Thus from the Spirits of Form an ego was instilled with the propensity to selflessness, whereas the laggard ego-spirits instilled into man the ego with the propensities towards selfishness, egotism. That is the ego which will still not free itself from instincts, desires, and passions. They press into the astral body and interpenetrate it — so that in man's astral body there is a twofold nature: selfless impulses that aspire to rise higher and those passions which are imbued with selfishness and have entered man through the influences of the ego-spirits and have anchored themselves in him.
Now we will further consider evolution itself. We have seen how the astral body has been entirely permeated by the force of the incoming ego. The next stage is when the etheric body too is seized by this force, so that here too a kind of aperture towards the outer world arises. To sketch this (Fig. 2) we must put in the middle a physical body, then an etheric body which is broken through and entirely filled with the force of the ego and then the astral body which is also entirely full of this force. So in the etheric body we now have a force desiring to expand; the etheric body opens to the outside world.
We have come in the formation of man practically into the first and second third of the Atlantean Age. There still existed an old clairvoyance which no longer saw in picture merely the beneficial and harmful, the sympathetic and unsympathetic, but a kind of living dream pictures arose before man which lasted a long time. For the etheric body is the bearer of memory and since these human beings had as yet no disturbance from the physical body, such pictures coming from outside were held for a long time. Memory at that time was an outstanding force of the soul. You can read in The Akashic Record 1See: Rudolf Steiner, Cosmic Memory, Rudolf Steiner Publications, Englewood, N.J. what man was at that time in respect of memory. There was not of course as yet complete observation of the external world, but a kind of dim clairvoyance. This was, however, more comprehensive than perception through the astral body. It caused everything to arise in mighty pictures, definitely formed, like a dream, but with a correspondence to the external objects, whereas formerly the pictures only served to guide man in taking his direction.
Now we advance to the last third of the Atlantean time. And now the physical body too is gripped by the force of the ego (Fig. 3). Rudiments of an indentation arise in the physical body, it becomes indented and around it we have the etheric and astral bodies. We will merely imagine the whole schematically now; in the course of succeeding lectures we shall get to know the realities. In a certain way, however, such a kind of indenting had appeared, the physical body took up the ego into itself. The point where the ego was taken in lies between the eyebrows, as I have often explained. The opening that comes about through the penetration of the ego into the physical body is to be thought of particularly as the opening of the physical senses. The ego presses through the eye, through the hearing — which is not merely an opening but a whole series of openings. All this takes place in the last third of Atlantean times and the human body was so transformed that it has become what it is today.
We call the etheric body as it was transformed at the beginning of the Atlantean Age the intellectual or mind soul and the transformed physical body we call the consciousness soul. So that what is described in my Theosophy as the position today, we have now followed as a consequence of evolution. You see here how things come about gradually.
After the physical body too is opened to the outside, man for the first time learnt to know the external world. And now begins the conscious transforming of the astral body. It was a more or less unconscious transformation before the beginnings of the consciousness soul. To picture this condition, we must think of it schematically like this: the astral body, etheric body and physical body opened, and through the fact that man comes in connection with the outside world he forms in himself an enclosure. This represents all that the ego develops in intercourse with the outer world, all that the ego “learns” through external contacts. Now imagine that the whole of what the ego develops in this way becomes greater and greater, and that this new structure, which has been gradually developed, lays itself round the astral body here. Although this is all schematic it corresponds to the actual process, and the new structure unites with man's astral body and in course of evolution transforms it into the human Manas or spirit-self. (Fig. 4.) Man is at work on this today, when through what he ac-quires in his intercourse with the external world he is transforming his astral body into Manas or spirit-self. We are in the midst of this process at the present time.
Since, however, the Spirits of Form have given up their ego, letting it trickle down into man, we are surrounded everywhere by these beings whose lowest member is of a Manasic nature, the spirit-self. If we want to seek in our surroundings for these Spirits of Form, for their lowest member, then we find it in that which we ourselves gradually develop as our fifth member. What we develop as human wisdom by which we must become wiser and wiser, that we should find manifested in our surroundings as the lowest member of the Spirits of Form. We have indeed often spoken of this. Let us look at what surrounds us, at what has been done by more exalted beings around us and in which we have taken no share. Let us look at what I have often mentioned, a piece of the thigh bone, in which the lattice work which goes to and fro is combined to such a wonderful scaffolding, that we must confess: Here with the minimum amount of material the maximum strength is attained! We see secreted in this structure what man will gradually learn — though it is impossible today — how to build bridge-scaffoldings through his engineering art that will be as wisely constructed as the thigh bones which carry the human upper body like pillars. The whole human body is thus wisely arranged, it is an expression of wisdom and when we go out into Nature this same wisdom meets us everywhere. Let us go, for example, to the dams which the beavers make. We see how the beavers collect at certain times of the year when the water has acquired a greater fall, in order to construct a dam in the water at a definite angle which will hold up the water and produce a new fall. Everywhere in our surroundings we find everything permeated with wisdom, — as we shall be permeated with it when we have developed Manas in full measure. The wisdom that we meet with everywhere belongs to the Spirits of Form. As the physical body is our lowest member so is the wisdom which we find all around us the lowest member of the Spirits of Form, then they have Budhi, Atma, where we have our etheric and astral bodies and then they have the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh members. We have to do here, as you see, with highly exalted beings to whom we look up; and when we see the wisdom in our surroundings, we see only the lowest member of these exalted beings. In comparison with these beings we are like a creature, a lower being, that creeps about on man and sees only the outside of his physical body. We creep about on the earth and see the wisdom, which for the Spirits of Form is what the physical body is for us. Such a being is a “creative spirit” as regards man, for this creative spirit has instilled his ego into him.
Precisely as we raise ourselves to Manas, so in the further course of evolution we shall someday acquire the life-spirit, Budhi, through the transforming of our etheric body. In our environment we have Manas or spirit-self as the wisdom impregnated into the world. That is the lowest member of the Spirits of Form, but there are also other beings linked with the earth whose lowest member is not our fifth, Manas, but our sixth, i.e. the life-spirit or Budhi. Around us is the atmosphere for beings whose lowest member — as member of higher beings — is equivalent to our life-spirit. And just as truly as at the beginning of the earthly evolution an external deed instilled the ego into man, so at a definite point of time there came the first impression and influence of the beings who little by little instil the full strength of Budhi. Two thousand years after the time in the ancient hoary past when the ego was poured down, there was still not much to be seen of such egos in the human bodies. That all came about gradually, only in the course of many millennia did the ego reach full manifestation. One must never imagine that the instilling of the ego was an event of which someone could say: “Nothing special happened; I do not acknowledge it, that is simply an event as others have been before!” If any particularly “enlightened” persons had lived on earth 2000 years after the instilling of the ego, and had perhaps represented the materialism of the time, they would have said: “Oh, there are certain among us who maintain that a special force has come down from heaven and brought all mankind forward. But that is a dualism of the worst kind, as Monists we must explain that that is something which was already there long ago!” These things appeared slowly and gradually.
Just as at the beginning of the Lemurian Age a powerful impulse forwards was given through the inflowing of the ego, which has later made possible the development of spirit-self or Manas, even so there has been an event of fundamental importance through which man will become capable with his whole being of developing not only Manas, but life-spirit or Budhi. And this event is the Deed on Golgotha. This event is the appearance of Christ on earth! It may be that some people will deny that to-day, but this event was just as much a force coming out of the environment as that other was. Thus we see that we grasp the evolution of the world from its spiritual aspect when we look into the depths of the world. We learn gradually not to look merely to a material existence, but we discover, wherever we look into cosmic space, spiritual beings and their deeds. Through what we call Theosophy we learn to know of these deeds, we live and weave and have our being within the spiritual beings and their deeds.
In our next lecture we will go more exactly into the human organism and indicate how the development has taken place, after today having dealt with it more schematically.