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The Spiritual Hierarchies
GA 110

Lecture IX

18 April 1909 Morning, Düsseldorf

The theme of yesterday's lecture naturally raises many questions, but truths of this kind, when heard for the first time, cannot be comprehended easily. Although it was mentioned yesterday, I would like to emphasize that everything I have said is the result, not of some theory that has been elaborated, but of actual facts inscribed in the Akashic Record. Only after they have been read can they be arranged in some sort of systematic way.

One question that may be in the minds of several people is, “What about the planets as finished products?” Yesterday, we considered the genesis of a planet up to the point where it became physically visible. But now someone might say, “Yes, but surely the planets we see in the heavens did not all originate before the period described yesterday. Surely they are no longer in a state of becoming.” That is quite correct. We should bear in mind that the planets went through a further stage than the one indicated yesterday. Suppose you wish to trace the origin of a planet, not at the time of ancient Saturn, when, incidentally, only Saturn existed, but during the period of the creation of the earth. First, we have the repetition of Saturn development, then the stages of Sun and Moon are repeated until earth development proper begins with the formation of a mighty globe of warmth or fire, as I have described it in relation to Saturn. Now the time came when Saturn split itself off from the mighty revolving fire globe as a result of influences emanating from the constellation of the Lion, Separation reached its peak and, as a result, we have the planet known today as Saturn. Thus it came about.

You should not imagine, however that, the calming influences exerted through the Lion acted to completely arrest Saturn's motion. Saturn became a being that sucked up everything that was previously distributed in its periphery. This occurred by means of the influences from the Lion. But the big globe from which Saturn severed itself now contracted and continued to exist inside as a smaller globe. Although this whole structure now withdrew inwardly, Saturn nevertheless preserved, after the inner calming influences, something of its original motion. Previously, it acquired its own momentum because it had to continue its motion, a kind of floating movement, within the globe. Now, when the globe withdrew, a self-impelled motion continued although the inner movement had been broken. The present rotation of Saturn is due to a self-impelled motion that arose after the first impulse had been given.

A similar situation occurred for Jupiter. What happened at the beginning of earth evolution has been described. Then differentiation took place in the globe as it began to contract inwardly. The slaying of the various globes occurred under the sign of Scorpio. They interpenetrated and crowded on top of one another and, as a result, inner life began. After the mighty living being of Jupiter had been slain, the life of the several beings on the planet began. When the globe contracted, its motion then continued independently after the first impulse had been given. The present motions of Saturn, Jupiter, etc., are the result of the formative processes that were described yesterday. They occurred after these processes had been completed.

Another difficulty appears to have arisen because I referred to Jupiter as the second, and Mars as the third, planet that detached themselves, whereas, chronologically, I mentioned first a Saturn stage of development, followed by Sun and Moon developments. This is quite justified. Our present planets arose during the recapitulation in the fourth stage of evolution, during earth development. At the outset, when Saturn was formed, it was really the only planet. During the Sun evolution, a second body was present and we have now to speak of a Sun. When the Sun evolution came to an end, the process that had begun with Saturn had also been completed. Looking back to the first planetary stages of the development of our earth, we find that each was brought to a conclusion once and for all.

This is not true with regard to the development of the earth proper. First, we have a Saturn repetition, then a repetition of the Sun, but the process is inwardized; it is not rounded off. Jupiter is thrown off as the remnant of the recapitulation of the development of the Sun. This is what we should bear in mind. Now the Moon evolution is repeated on earth. If we look back to evolution as a whole, this stage was brought to a definite conclusion in the past. But the Moon period within earth development is not brought to a conclusion. It continues and Mars is the planet that remains as a result of the recapitulation.

The present planets visible in the heavens originated during the period known as the fourth, the era of earth evolution in our Akashic Record. These facts should be borne in mind; it is impossible in dealing with the universe to mention everything in detail. You may also have noticed that first there existed a kind of globe; I spoke, for instance, with reference to Saturn, about a globe of fire or a large kind of fiery egg, and after that I mentioned a rotating motion. That is quite correct; originally we have a kind of egg or globe. While this globe, corresponding to the primal condition of Saturn, is revolving, a kind of girdle is being formed; it does not surround the whole of the egg, it is like a broad band. Everything that is being formed around about is gathered within the girdle. This girdle formation represents a general cosmic law. You can see this law relating to accumulation in the form of an equator or girdle exemplified in the cosmos as far as the eye can see, for the Milky Way owes its existence to it. The Milky Way is like an outermost girdle surrounding cosmic space with stars sparsely distributed in between, and is the result of the law that causes things to be gathered together in a belt as soon as a rotatory motion sets in. Because of this, our cosmic system is lentil-shaped. It is not spherical as is usually accepted and the girdle is gathered together at the equator.

You must also imagine such a girdle at the origin of a planet. To depict these stages diagrammatically, let us take an egg and draw a red belt on it. The whole egg must not be colored red, only the girdle. The bodies selected to form a planet are now assembled along this belt. Here one would have to draw a point where everything comes together.

Figure 1

Thus you see that the configuration of the stars in the heavens is the result of the activity of spiritual beings. For we should realize that, when speaking of the contraction of great masses, such processes do not occur of their own accord but as a result of the working of beings of the Higher Hierarchies.

Summing up, we can say that during the period when ancient Saturn was formed, that is, the mighty fire globe from which our whole solar system issued forth, the Spirits of Personality were passing through their human stage of existence; during the old Sun, the Archangels or Fire Spirits went through their human existence, on the old Moon, the Angels, and on earth, man experiences his human stage. Yet, man is involved in all the previous stages, for the first inception of the physical body was already present during the earliest phase of ancient Saturn. It was not yet permeated by an etheric or astral body but at that time the physical body was already predisposed to become the instrument, after a number of transformations, of the spiritual earthly being that man is today. During ancient Saturn the physical human body was gradually prepared for its later task; each part was formed in a rudimentary way as ancient Saturn revolved from one sign of the zodiac to the next. During the period that Saturn stood in the sign of the Lion, the outline of the heart was formed; the beginnings of the cage of the ribs came about as Saturn passed through the sign of the Crab. The predisposition to symmetry in the physical form of man took place when Saturn stood in the sign of the Twins. We could thus trace every part of the human body. Looking up to the Ram, we find the sign of the zodiac that gave birth, when ancient Saturn stood in it, to the upper part of the head. The foundations of our speech organs were laid down when ancient Saturn stood in the sign of the Bull. If you now imagine man distributed in this way, you will find in the zodiac the creative forces that gave rise to each of these parts.

In the ancient Mysteries the zodiac was represented pictorially much as we have it here on the ceiling of this hall. You might say that is a coincidence, but such things do not really happen by chance. Formerly, the signs of the zodiac were not depicted as animal forms, but each sign was made to represent a particular part of man—the head in the Ram, the region of the throat in the Bull, the arms expressing symmetry in the Twins, the cage of the ribs in Cancer, the heart in the Lion, and so on until one reaches the lower part of the legs in Waterman and the feet in the Fishes. Imagine a zodiac as the form of man inscribed in the cosmos. Then you will have a picture of the rudimentary parts of the human physical body as they were created by the power of the Thrones, Seraphim and Cherubim. That is the great cosmic man found in the myths of the world throughout the ages and out of which each individual man has been composed in the most varied forms.

Let us, for instance, think of the giant Ymir spread out in the cosmos, for microcosmic man was formed out of the giant. You find the mighty macrocosmic man everywhere, the creator who represents externally what the human being contains inwardly. A profound truth lies at the basis of such representations; it comes to light more or less imperfectly depending on the clairvoyant capacities of the various peoples. It also shines through in the wisdom that found external expression in the Old Testament. We find it in the esoteric knowledge of the ancient Hebrews, which builds the foundation for the wisdom of the Old Testament: in the Adam Cadmon of the Kabbala. Macrocosmic man is spread out in the cosmos and we should form the right concepts about him.

The teaching that culminated in a consideration of macrocosmic man contains the deepest secrets of the universe. These teachings will gradually flow into the general education of humanity. But we are still far removed from understanding them today. If a mere scholar had listened to these lectures, he would surely have thought this audience was anything but an intelligent company of people. We can hardly understand these things today. But we are at the beginning of an age when facts found to contradict the fantastic theories of modern science will urge people to seek the encompassing truths of primeval wisdom. The mystery regarding the process of conception, for instance, about which there is much erroneous speculation today, will not be unravelled until the teaching of macrocosmic man is applied to it. Light will be shed down to the minutest detail on the real mysteries, which cannot be investigated by means of the instruments of modern research. For how small is the cell where conception takes place when compared to the cosmos. Only the mysteries of the great cosmos wHl solve the riddle of what is taking place in the smallest cell. Nothing else will be able to solve these problems. The contributions of natural science in the field of conception are by no means worthless, and yet they strike one as mere child's play compared with the real mystery involved. The answer of what happens at a particular point can only be found in the periphery. Therefore, the ancient Mystery teachers said, “If you seek to understand the center, investigate the circumference for there you will find the answer.” That is important.

If you recall that the single heavenly bodies retain their own momentum after a certain conclusion has been reached, you will also grasp what is meant by the karma of a heavenly body. As soon as a planet has reached a final stage, the beings who belong to it have to reckon with its dissolution, with its disappearance from cosmic surroundings. If we trace the development of ancient Saturn, for instance, we find that the process is an ascending one up to the fusion into the globe of heat; or, if you wish, a regressive process when we are dealing with the other forces of contraction. But when Saturn begins to revolve—we are speaking of the first Saturn development—the globe is completed; everything with which it is concerned has been accomplished. The spirits involved must take into account, in the process of dissolution, the forces that were active in building it up; that is karma. Things have to be dissolved in accordance with the way they have been built up; that is an inescapable factor.

The karma of the first half of evolution fulfills itself in the second. During the second half, things are destroyed that were built up during the first half. The cosmic process of becoming creates karma; the passing away of worlds in the broadest sense of the word is none other than pain under the burden of karma and the wiping away of that karma. As in big things, so it is also in small ones and it applies to each planet. For each planet mirrors faithfully the conditions prevailing in the cosmos at large.

The same process may be observed in a people or nation. It rises in its youth, full of strength and activity; it brings forth in succeeding ages various elements of culture and civilization. But at a certain point a zenith is reached and an amount of karma, the karma of a nation, has been accumulated. Much was accumulated as karma during Saturn evolution as a result of what came into being, so we have also to reckon with the accumulated karma of a nation during the period that civilization is being built up. This karma is at its peak, at its strongest when a nation has given forth its original and most elemental forces.

We have seen that in every period there are guiding beings. Angels, Archangels and Archai descended to the earth in order to help humanity to progress to higher stages that it could not have reached of its own accord. When a particular stage has been reached and beings from heavenly heights who descended to guide a nation have achieved their aim, other beings have to take over the guidance of this nation. If a people is to rise beyond its zenith, leading personalities have to become, of their own free will, bearers of higher spiritual beings. Only in this way can a nation progress to certain stages beyond what was originally intended. But in this case, something further has to happen, namely, the beings who descend to guide a nation beyond a certain point in its development must take the accumulated karma on themselves. That is the important law of the taking on of the karma of nations or races. Personalities such as Hermes took on themselves the karma inherent in their people, the accumulated karma. Such things are found as the reflection of mighty cosmic processes on the various planets.

There are yet other reflected images. We have seen that the Thrones reached their particular stage because they were able to make the step from the created to the creator. From a condition of taking, they achieved the stage of giving. Formerly, the Thrones went through their development on other cosmic systems; they reached the stage of being able to stream forth their substance. Giving, bringing sacrifices, denotes a higher stage of development than storing up for oneself what is present in the cosmos. We find a reflection. of this in man. Look backwards through the Atlantean and Lemurian times, and now forward. Man receives his physical, etheric, astral bodies and his ego, and now the “I” begins the process of transforming these members, the transformation of the astral body into Manas, of the etheric body into Buddhi, of the physical body into Atman—that is, into Spirit Self, Life Spirit and Spirit Man.

In all Mystery wisdom it was taught that man so transforms his astral body that, at first, a part of the old astrality remains and the other part becomes Manas. In time, however, he will transform it completely, and the astral body will be fully permeated by the activity of the ego. Take a person who has not yet reached this stage of complete permeation. Excepting a few, this, in fact, is the case for the vast majority of human beings today. What a man has transformed accompanies him through all eternity; the untransformed portion in which the ego has had no part is rejected in the form of an astral sheath after the human being has passed through kamaloka. It dissolves in the astral world but not without causing considerable damage if the astral body contained evil desires and passions. We may thus say that the development of man consists in leaving less and less of himself behind in the astral world.

Let us follow this process through. A human being dies; shortly after death the etheric body is released and a remnant remains behind. The person goes through kamaloka and the untransformed sheath is detached. The transformed part is carried within the ego through all eternity and is brought back in the next incarnation. The more perfect a person is, the less he will leave behind in the astral world in the form of remnants, until finally he reaches the stage at which nothing of his astral body remains in kamaloka, that is, through remnants left in kamaloka, he can no longer be harmful to those living on earth. Such a person then has the possibility also of seeing into spiritual worlds. For such a condition cannot be achieved without having reached a certain degree of clairvoyance in the astral. The whole of the astral body is then spiritualized, has become Spirit Self; the whole of the astral body is then taken along. Previously, the bad portion had to be left behind, now the entire astral body can be taken into the future. When the astral has progressed so far that it is completely transformed, the new form of the astral body, the Spirit Self, stamps itself into the etheric body so that it receives an imprint of the transformed astral body. It need not yet have been completely transformed itself, but what has been worked through in the astral body is imprinted into the etheric body. Briefly, we have here described a particularly exalted being who has progressed to a high degree in that he has developed the whole of the Spirit Self. Such a being is named Nirmanakaya in Oriental wisdom, for his astral body, his astral kaya, has reached the stage at which no remains are left behind. That is a Nirmanakaya.

Let us proceed. Man can develop ever further; finally he re-fashions his etheric body and his physical body. What happens when the etheric and physical bodies are transformed so that they come under the sway of man himself? When the etheric body has been transformed so that he not only has Spirit Self in his astral body but also has gradually developed Life Spirit or Buddhi in his etheric body, and when the Life Spirit is imprinted in the physical body, the next higher stage of development has been reached, a kind of intermediary stage. At this stage, man need no longer leave any part of his etheric body behind either. Such an etheric body transformed into Life Spirit or Buddhi continues to exist for all time in the same form.

In this way, man will become ever more able to attain rulership over his astral and etheric bodies. This will also enable him to direct these bodies. A person who has not yet attained the mastery of his ego over his astral body will naturally have to wait until this stage is reached. But one who has attained mastery over his astral and etheric bodies can dispose of them freely. He can say, “Because of what I have been able to experience with my ego in many incarnations, which have taught me to transform my astral and etheric bodies, I have gained the ability, when returning to earth, to fashion a new astral and etheric body out of the etheric and astral substance that will be equally perfect.” As a result, he is able to sacrifice his own astral and etheric bodies, to transfer them to others.

There are individualities who are able to sacrifice their etheric and astral bodies because they have achieved control of these bodies and have learned to elaborate them. When they return to earth, they build up a new astral and etheric body out of the available material. What they achieved to perfection, however, is passed on to other individualities who have to accomplish certain tasks in the world. Thus, personalities who appear later receive astral and etheric bodies from those who lived earlier. In this way, personalities of the past do not only act during their own period but work into the future.

Zarathustra, for instance, who was able to control his astral body, and which he later passed on to Hermes, was able to say, “I live, but I shall not only work as the outer personality I now am; I also permeate the astral body of the Egyptian Hermes who was the founder of the Egyptian cultural epoch.” Such a personality possesses a body, a kaya, that does not only work at the place where he is, but whose influence is projected into the future, who proclaims the laws of the development of the future. "Laws of the future1, are called Dharma. Such a body is therefore termed a Dharmakaya. Such expressions are common in Oriental lore and here you have the true explanation of terms known in primeval wisdom from times immemorial. In surveying the many things we have considered during these days, a question may well arise in our minds as to what man really is. We have called man a particular stage of development. We have seen that the Spirits of Personality were men on ancient Saturn—even the Thrones must have been men once—and we have discovered that man continues to develop, that he will evolve into higher forms of being. We have come to know the first stages of this development in angels and archangels, and we have seen how such beings are able to sacrifice a part of themselves.

We have seen the beginnings of sacrifice in the Thrones, beings who possess it to the highest degree. In the leaders of peoples and races we find the first gleam of creative activity; they were able to make use of their bodies in such a way that something streamed forth from them. As the Thrones made their wisdom stream forth, so to a different degree, the Nirmanakayas let their bodies flow out into the future for the sake of individualities appearing later who would not have reached a particular stage of development had they not received what streamed forth from beings who lived before them.

Thus we gain an idea of evolution from the starting point of taking, to that of streaming out, of creating. The concept of the creator arises in our mind's eye and we can then say that every being evolves from creature to creator. Archangels achieved their manhood on the old Sun, Spirits of Personalities on ancient Saturn, Angels on the old Moon, and we human beings on the earth. So it will continue forever—other beings will achieve their human stage in the future. But does this process continue endlessly? Is it merely an eternal succession of cycles, cycles such as that of the Sun, which repeats what occurred on Saturn apart from the fact that a number of beings reach this stage only later? (For the Spirits of Fire are one degree below the Spirits of Personality.) But is that all there is to it that beings who start as helpless creatures evolve so that they, too, can bring a sacrifice? No, that is not the case, most definitely not. Is the humanity of the Spirits of Personality on Saturn the same as that of the Archangels on the Sun, and of the Angels on Mars (the old Moon), and of mankind here on the earth? If we take, for instance, the nature of the Angels, do we only see in them our own future image as it will be on Jupiter? Do we only see in the Spirits of Fire an image of what we ourselves shall become on Venus? Can it really be said, “We here on earth shall reach higher stages of development; we, too, shall become part of the Hierarchies, but the beings we will be in the future are already there now for our own stage has been achieved by other beings in earlier times?” Fundamental questions such as these must arise in anyone who lets these lectures work impartially upon him.

If, indeed, we are merely dealing with an ever-recurring humanity, then we are identical with the Spirits of Personality on ancient Saturn, with the Archangels on the old Sun, with the Angels on Mars (the old Moon). It may be of importance to us but for the Gods, only an increase of creatures would be involved and no very appreciable progress would thereby have been achieved. The other question is whether, because human beings develop their manhood on the earth they will thereby evolve into beings able to contribute something of which Angels, Archangels and Spirits of Personality are incapable. Has the whole of creation learned something by having created man after the Archangels and the Angels? Has creation progressed? Is it feasible that because man has condescended to slide down lower he can therefore expect to rise higher in the future? Such is the question that logically follows. We shall devote the last lecture to considering the significance of man in the cosmos and his relationship to the Higher Hierarchies, that is, what, ultimately, will become of man within the ranks of the Hierarchies.