Background to the Gospel of St. Mark
III. The Tasks of the Fifth Post-Atlantean Epoch
7 November 1910, Berlin
We have often studied the period of evolution following the Atlantean catastrophe and the epochs of post-Atlantean civilisation: the Old Indian, Old Persian, Egypto-Chaldean, Graeco-Roman, and now the fifth, in which we ourselves are living. There will be two more epochs, making seven in all, before there is another great catastrophe.
The accounts given have naturally been of different aspects of these culture-epochs, for an idea of the future can be formed only by knowing how we are related to each of them. I have often said that there is a correspondence between the individual human being as a ‘Microcosm’, a ‘little world’, and the ‘Macrocosm’, the ‘great world’. Man, the ‘little world’, is in every respect a replica, a copy, of the ‘great world’. This is literally true, but stated in this form it is a very abstract truth and does not lead us very far. It becomes significant only if we can go on and show in detail how the individual human being is to be conceived as a Microcosm compared with the Macrocosm.
The man of to-day belongs to all the seven post-Atlantean epochs for he has been, or will be, incarnated in each of them. In every incarnation we receive what that particular epoch can give us. Thus we bear within ourselves the fruits of past phases of evolution. Our intrinsic qualities and talents are those we have acquired during the several post-Atlantean epochs and they lie more or less within the range of human consciousness as it is to-day. On the other hand, during our Atlantean incarnations there were very different states of consciousness and what we then acquired has, generally speaking, been pressed down into the subconscious. It does not therefore reverberate within us as strongly as what was acquired in later incarnations during the post-Atlantean epoch. In the much earlier Atlantean epoch human consciousness was by no means as wideawake as it became later on and men were not then able to the same extent to injure their own development. Consequently the fruits of Atlantean evolution within us are more in harmony with the World-Order than has been the case since we have been able ourselves to create disorder in our own being. Ahrimanic and Luciferic influences were active during the Atlantean epoch too, but the effect of them upon man was altogether different. Nor was man then in a position to protect himself against them.
The ever-increasing development of human consciousness is the essential feature of post-Atlantean civilisation. The evolution of mankind in the period between the catastrophe which overwhelmed Atlantis and the one that will bring the post-Atlantean epoch to an end may be thought of as a macrocosmic process; humanity as a whole evolves as one great being through the seven post-Atlantean epochs. And the most important phases in the evolution of consciousness during these seven epochs resemble what the individual himself undergoes in the seven ‘ages’ or periods of his own life.
In my book Occult Science, and elsewhere, these different life-periods have often been described. The first period covers the seven years from birth to the change of teeth. During this period the physical body of the human being acquires its basic forms and with the coming of the second teeth these forms are to all intents and purposes established. Naturally, the child continues to grow; but speaking generally, the lines of the bodily structures have already been established. What is accomplished in the first seven years is the construction of the bodily form. We must be prepared to find these rhythms manifesting in us in a wide variety of ways. For instance, there is a difference between the first teeth, which appear during the earliest years of life and then fall out, to be replaced by the second teeth. The two sets of teeth are the result of essentially different conditions. The first teeth are the inherited product of the organisms of the child's forefathers. The second teeth are the product of the child's own physical constitution. This must be kept firmly in mind. Only by being attentive to such details can the distinction be fully understood. Our first teeth, together with our whole organism, are passed on to us by our forefathers; our second teeth are the product of our own physical organism. In the first case the teeth are a direct inheritance: in the second it is the physical organism that is inherited and this in its turn produces the second teeth.
The second life-period is from the time of the change of teeth to puberty, at about the fourteenth or fifteenth year. The important process now is the development of the etheric body. The third period, to about the twenty-first year, covers the development of the astral body. Then follows the development of the Ego, with the progressive development of the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual or Mind-Soul and the Spiritual Soul (Consciousness-Soul).
These are the different periods in man's life: but as you certainly know, the first period of seven years alone follows a completely regular pattern, and this is as it should be for man of the present age. The regularity apparent in the first three life-periods is not found in the later ones, nor can their length be defined with exactitude. If we ask why this is so, the answer is that in world-evolution which proceeds in rhythms of seven periods, the fourth plays a middle part. Thus in the post-Atlantean era we already have within us the fruits of the first four epochs; we are now living in the fifth and moving towards the sixth.
There is undoubtedly a certain correspondence between the evolution of the post-Atlantean epochs and that of the individual human being. Here again there is evidence of correspondence between the macrocosmic and the microcosmic.
Let us consider what was particularly characteristic of the first post-Atlantean epoch. We call it the Old Indian epoch because the character of post-Atlantean evolution in general was especially marked in the people of India. In this epoch there existed a sublime, all-embracing wisdom, with wide ramifications. In principle, the teachings given by the seven holy Rishis were identical with what was actually seen in the spiritual world by natural clairvoyants and also by very many of the people of that time. This ancient knowledge was present in the Old Indian epoch as a heritage from still earlier times. In the Atlantean epoch it had been experienced clairvoyantly, but it had now become more of an inherited, primal wisdom, preserved and made known by those who, like the Rishis, had risen through Initiation to the spiritual worlds. Basically, all the wisdom that penetrated into human consciousness was inherited and therefore essentially different from our modern knowledge.
It would be quite wrong to attempt to express the sublime truths proclaimed by the holy Rishis in the first post-Atlantean epoch in terms such as those used in modern scholarship; moreover it would hardly be possible to do so, because the forms assumed by scholarship as it is to-day appeared only in the course of post-Atlantean culture. The knowledge possessed by the ancient Rishis was of a very different character. Anyone capable of proclaiming it felt it working and seething within him, rising up spontaneously. To understand what knowledge was in those days we must realise above all that it did not in any way rely upon memory. Please keep this very specially in mind. Memory is the most important factor when knowledge is being transmitted to-day. A professor or a public speaker must take care that he knows beforehand what he is going to say from the rostrum, and then draw it out of his memory. True, there are people who deny that they do any such thing, insisting that they simply follow their own genius. But they don't affect the argument. The communication of knowledge to-day depends almost entirely upon memory.
Things were very different in the Old Indian epoch. It would be true to say that knowledge arose at the actual moment of speaking. In those early times knowledge was not prepared beforehand as it so often is to-day. The ancient Rishi did not prepare what he had to say and then memorise it. The preparation he made was to induce in himself a mood of piety, of reverence. It was his mood and his feelings that he prepared, not the content of what he was about to communicate. And then, while it was being communicated it was as if he were reading from an invisible script. It would have been unthinkable in those days for listeners to take down in writing what was being said; anything recorded in this way would have been considered quite worthless. Value was attached only to what a man preserved in his soul and might later reproduce for others. It would have been regarded as desecration to write anything down. The view rightly held at that time was that what is transcribed is not, and cannot be, the same as the oral communication.
This way of thinking persisted for a very long time. Such matters are retained in the feelings much longer than in the intellect and when, in the Middle Ages, the art of printing was added to that of writing, it was at first regarded as black magic. Old feelings were still astir in men and they felt that what is meant to pass directly from soul to soul should not be preserved in the grotesque form of letters and words printed on sheets of white paper. People were convinced that this transformed the knowledge to be communicated into something lifeless which might, moreover, subsequently be revived with anything but beneficial results. The direct streaming of knowledge from soul to soul was characteristic of the times we are considering. It was a prominent feature in the cultural life of the first post-Atlantean epoch and must be recognised if we are to understand, for instance, how it came about that Greek and even old Germanic rhapsodists could go from place to place reciting their very lengthy poems. This would never have been possible if they had been obliged to rely upon memory. It was a power and a quality of soul much more alive than memory that lay behind their recitations. Nowadays if we are to recite a poem we must have learnt it beforehand; but what those men were reciting was an actual experience in them, a kind of new creation. Moreover a direct expression of the life of soul was then more clearly in evidence than it is now, when — with some justification in view of prevailing conditions — it is apt to be suppressed. What is considered of main importance nowadays in recitation is the actual meaning of the words. It was not so, even in the Middle Ages, when a minstrel was reciting the Niebelungenlied, for instance. He still had a feeling for the inner rhythm and would stamp his feet to mark the rise and fall of the verse as he strode forward and back. But this was only an aftermath of what had been customary in more ancient times. You would have an erroneous idea of the Rishis and their pupils if you were to think that they had not faithfully communicated the old Atlantean knowledge. Even if the pupils in our schools were to fill their exercise books from cover to cover, they would not have reproduced what had been said as faithfully as the Indian Rishis reproduced the ancient wisdom.
The characteristic feature of the epochs which followed was that the flow of Atlantean knowledge came to a standstill. Until the decline of the Old Indian culture-epoch, knowledge received by men in the form of an inheritance continually increased. In essentials, however, the increase ceased with the close of this epoch: thereafter, hardly anything new could be produced from existing knowledge. An increase of knowledge was therefore possible only in the first epoch; thereafter it ceased. In the Old Persian epoch, among men influenced by Zoroastrianism, something began in connection with knowledge of the external world which can be compared with the second period in human life and is, in fact, best understood through such a comparison. In a spiritual respect the Old Indian culture-epoch is comparable with the first period in human life, from birth to the seventh year. During this period the basic forms are developed; whatever comes later is merely expansion within these established forms. What followed in the Old Persian epoch can similarly be compared with a kind of school-learning, the kind of learning connected with the second life-period. Only we must be clear who were the pupils and who were the teachers. At this point there is something I want to interpolate.
You must have been struck by the difference between the figure of Zarathustra, the Leader of the second post-Atlantean epoch, and the Indian Rishis. Whereas the Rishis seem to be consecrated individuals stemming from a primordial past, to be vessels into whom old Atlantean wisdom has poured, Zarathustra appears as the first historical personality to be initiated into a genuinely post-Atlantean Mystery-knowledge, that is to say, knowledge presented in such a way that it could be understood only by the intelligence of post-Atlantean humanity. Something new has therefore made its appearance. True, during the early period it was preeminently supersensible knowledge that was acquired in the Zoroastrian schools. Nevertheless it was there that knowledge began for the first time to take the form of concepts. The ancient knowledge possessed by the Rishis cannot be reproduced in the forms of modern scholarship but to some extent this is possible with the Zoroastrian knowledge. This is knowledge of an altogether supersensible character and concerned entirely with the supersensible world but it is clothed in concepts comparable with those current during the post-Atlantean epoch in general. Among the followers of Zarathustra a systematic development of concepts took place. To sum up: The treasure-store of ancient wisdom which had evolved until the end of the Old Indian epoch and continued from generation to generation, was accepted. Nothing new was added but the old was elaborated. A comparison, for example, with the production nowadays of a book on occultism will help us to picture the task of the Mysteries of the second post-Atlantean epoch. The contents of any book resulting from genuine investigations into the higher worlds could of course be presented as an entirely logical exposition in the physical world. This might be done. But in that case my book Occult Science, for example, would have to consist of fifty volumes at least, each of them as bulky as the present one. There is, however, another way of doing things, namely to leave something to the reader, to induce the reader to think things out for himself. That is what must be attempted nowadays, for otherwise no progress in occultism could be made. To-day, in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, with the intellectual concepts developed by humanity, it is possible to approach and also to assimilate occult knowledge. But in Zarathustra's time the concepts in which to clothe occult facts had first to be discovered and gradually elaborated. There were then no branches of knowledge such as exist to-day. Something capable of being clothed in human concepts had survived from the time of the ancient Rishis, but the concepts as such had to be formulated before the supersensible facts could be clothed in them. It was then, for the first time, that man-made concepts were used to grasp supersensible realities. The Rishis had spoken in the only way in which, in their day, supersensible knowledge could be communicated. They poured their knowledge from soul to soul in an unceasing flow of pictures. They were unconcerned with cause and effect, with concepts and categories such as are familiar to us to-day. This was a much later development. In the field of supersensible knowledge a beginning was made in the second post-Atlantean epoch. It was then that man first became aware of the opposition offered by material existence and therewith the need to express supersensible facts in forms of thought employed on the physical plane. This was the basic task of the second post-Atlantean epoch.
By the third epoch, that of Egypto-Chaldean culture, concepts of supersensible realities were actually in existence. This again is difficult for the modern mind to grasp. There was no physical science but there were concepts of supersensible facts and happenings which had been acquired in a supersensible way, and these concepts could be expressed in forms of thought applicable to the physical plane. In the third post-Atlantean epoch men began to apply to the physical world itself what they had learnt from the supersensible world. This again can be compared with the third period in the life of a human being. In the second period he learns without proceeding to apply what he has learnt. In the third life-period most human beings have to apply their knowledge to the physical plane. The pupils of Zarathustra in the second culture-epoch were pupils of heavenly knowledge; now men began to apply to the physical plane what they had learnt. It may help us to picture this if we say that through their visions men learnt that the supersensible can be expressed by a triangle — a triangle taken as an image of the supersensible; that the supersensible nature of man, permeating the physical, can be conceived as threefold. Other concepts too were mastered, enabling physical things to be related to supersensible facts. Geometry, for instance, was first mastered in the form of symbolic concepts. In short, concepts were now available and were applied by the Egyptians to the art of land-surveying, also to agriculture, and by the Chaldeans in their study of the stars and in the founding of Astrology and Astronomy. What had previously been regarded as purely supersensible was now applied to things physically seen. In the third culture-epoch, then, men began for the first time to apply supersensible knowledge to the phenomena of the world of sense.
In the fourth epoch, the Graeco-Latin, it was especially important that men should come to see that what they were doing was to apply to the physical plane knowledge derived from supersensible sources. Hitherto they had acted without questioning whether this was actually the case. The ancient Rishis had no need for such questioning because the knowledge streamed into them directly from the spiritual world. In the epoch of Zarathustra men assimilated the supersensible knowledge and were fully aware how it originated. In the Egypto-Chaldean epoch men invested the concepts derived from the supersensible world with knowledge they had acquired in the physical world. And in the fourth epoch (the Graeco-Latin) they began to ask whether it is right to apply to the physical world what has come from the spiritual world. Is what has been spiritually acquired in fact applicable to physical things? — Men could not put this to themselves as a definite question until the fourth culture-epoch, after they had for some time been applying supersensible knowledge in all naivety to physical experiences and observations. Now they became conscientious in regard to their own doings and began to ask whether it is justifiable to apply supersensible concepts to physical facts.
Now when any epoch has an important task to perform, it always happens that some individual is particularly alive to its nature and responsible for fulfilling it. In this case, such an individual would have been struck by the thought as to whether one has the right to apply supersensible concepts to physical facts. Can anyone really predict how things will develop? It is obvious that Plato, for example, had a living connection with the ancient world and still applied concepts in their old form to the physical world. It was his pupil Aristotle who asked whether it is right to do this. — And so Aristotle became the founder of Logic.
People who reject Spiritual Science should just ask themselves why man had managed to get on without any system of Logic. Had they never before the fourth epoch felt any need for it? — To a clear-sighted view of evolution, important periods occur at definite points of time. One such period lies between Plato and Aristotle. Here we have before us a situation that is related in a certain way to the connection with the spiritual world existing in the Atlantean epoch. True, the living spiritual knowledge died out with the Old Indian culture-epoch, but something new had nevertheless been brought down to the physical plane. Now, in this later age, man had begun to develop a critical faculty, and to ask how ideas about supersensible reality may be applied to physical things. This is a sign that man only now became conscious that he himself achieves something when he is observing the external world, that he is actually bringing something down into the sense-world. This was a significant state of things.
We can still feel that concepts and ideas are in essence supersensible when we regard their very character as being a guarantee for the existence of the supersensible world. But only few feel this. What concepts and ideas contain is for most people extremely tenuous. And although there is something in them which can provide complete proof of man's immortality, it would be impossible to convince him, because compared with the solid, material reality for which he longs, concepts and ideas are as unsubstantial as a cobweb. They are, in fact, the last and slenderest thread spun by man out of the spiritual world since his descent into the physical world. And at the very time when he had left the spiritual world altogether and remained linked to it by this last, slender thread only — a thread in which he no longer had any faith — there came the mightiest incision from the supersensible world: the Christ Impulse. The greatest of all spiritual realities appeared in our post-Atlantean epoch at a time when man was least able to recognise the supersensible, because the only spiritual quality remaining to him was his feeling for concepts and ideas.
For anyone studying the evolution of humanity as a whole it would be interesting in a strictly scientific sense — apart from the tornado-like effect it may have on the soul — to set side by side the infinite spirituality of the Christ Being who entered into humanity and the fact that shortly before His coming man had been wondering how far the last thread of spirituality within him was connected with the supersensible world — in other words, to contrast the Christ Principle with Aristotelian Logic, that web of wholly abstract concepts and ideas. No greater disparity can be imagined than that between the spirituality which came down to the physical plane in the Being of Christ and the spirituality which man had preserved for himself. You will therefore understand that with the web of concepts available in Aristotelianism it was simply not possible in the first centuries of Christendom to comprehend the spiritual nature of Christ. And then, gradually, efforts were made to grasp the facts of world-history and the evolution of humanity in such a way that Aristotelian Logic could be applied. This was the task facing medieval philosophy.
It is significant that the fourth post-Atlantean epoch may be compared with the period of Ego-development in man's life. It was in this epoch that the ‘I’ of humanity itself streamed into evolution, at the time when man was further removed from the spiritual world than he had ever been and was therefore at first quite incapable of accepting Christ except through faith. Christianity was bound at first to be a matter of faith and is only now beginning, very gradually, to be a matter of knowledge. We have only just begun to bring the light of spiritual knowledge to bear upon the Gospels. For hundreds upon hundreds of years Christianity could only be a matter of faith, because man had reached the lowest point of his descent from the spiritual worlds.
This was the situation in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. But after the lowest point the re-ascent must begin. Although in a certain respect this epoch brought man to the lowest point of descent, it also gave him the strongest spiritual impulse upwards. Naturally, this was beyond his comprehension then and will be understood only in the epochs still to come. We can, however, recognise the task before us: it is to permeate our concepts and ideas with spirituality.
World-evolution is not a simple, straightforward process. When a ball begins to roll in a certain direction, inertia will keep it rolling unless its course is changed by some other impact. Similarly, pre-Christian culture tended to preserve and maintain the downward plunge into the physical world until our own time. The upward urge is only just beginning and periodically needs a new impetus.
The downward tendency is particularly evident in the way men think, even in a great deal of what is called Philosophy to-day. Aristotle still recognised that spiritual reality is within the grasp of human concepts. But a few centuries after him men were no longer able to understand how the activity of the human mind can make contact with reality. The most arid, most barren element in the development of the old mode of thinking is represented by Kantianism and everything related to it. For Kant's philosophy severs all connection between the concepts a man evolves, between ideas as inner experiences, and what concepts and ideas are in reality. Kantianism is in the process of withering away and has no living impulse to give to the future. It will now no longer surprise you that the conclusion of my lectures on Psychosophy had a theosophical background. I have made it clear that in all our activities, and especially in connection with knowledge of the soul, our task is to take the knowledge bestowed by the gods on men in earlier days and brought down as a stimulus to our thought, and offer it up again at the altars of the gods. But the ideas and concepts we make our own must have their origin in spirituality.
Psychology as a science must be cultivated in such a way that it can emerge from the decadence into which it has fallen. This is not said out of arrogance but because it is what the times demand. There have been and there still are many psychologists: but they all work with concepts totally devoid of spirituality. It is significant that in 1874 a man like Franz Brentano published only the first volume of his Psychology, which in spite of certain distortions, is generally sound. He had announced the second volume for publication in the same year; but he came to a standstill and could not finish it. He was able to give an outline of what the content was to have been but to get beyond that a spiritual impulse would have been needed.
Modern psychologies, for example those written by Wundt and Lipps, do not really deserve the name because they work only with ideas previously evolved and it was obvious from the outset that nothing would come of them. Brentano's Psychology might have led to something but he came to a standstill — which is the fate of all dying sciences. It will not happen so quickly in the case of the natural sciences, where cut-and-dried concepts can be applied because facts are being collected and may be allowed to speak for themselves. With Psychology — the science of the soul — this is much less practicable, for the whole foundation disappears if any attempt is made to work with the ordinary, rigid concepts. You don't immediately lose touch with a heart-muscle even if you analyse it as if it were a mineral product and have no knowledge of its real nature. But you cannot analyse the soul in the same way.
The sciences are as it were dying from above downwards. And it will gradually dawn on men that while they are certainly able to turn the laws of nature to account, this is something quite independent of science itself. To construct machines and instruments, telephones and the like, is a very different matter from a basic understanding of the sciences, let alone the ability to further their progress. A man may have no fundamental understanding of electricity and yet be able to construct electrical apparatus. Science in the real sense is, however, gradually declining and we have now reached a point where in its present form it must be given new life through spiritual science. In our fifth culture-epoch science is rolling downwards by its own momentum: when the ball can roll no further it will come to a standstill, as Brentano did. At this time, therefore, it is imperative that the ascent of humanity should be given a stronger and stronger stimulus. This will indeed take place, but only if efforts continue to be made to fertilise knowledge acquired from outside with what spiritual investigation has to offer.
As I have said before, a kind of repetition of the old Egypto-Chaldean epoch will become apparent during our own fifth epoch. This repetition is at present only just beginning. Indications of this might have become clear to you during this General Meeting. Think, for instance, of Herr Seiler's lecture on Astrology. You will have felt that as students of Spiritual Science you are able to apply to astrological concepts ideas which would be quite impossible for a conventional astronomer, who will inevitably treat anything connected with Astrology as nonsense. This has nothing to do with the intrinsic character of Astronomy. As a matter of fact, Astronomy is the science par excellence which lends itself readily to being led back again to spirituality; from what Astronomy has at present to offer it would be easy to pass to the basic truths of Astrology which is so often derided. What stands in the way is that the general attitude of mind is so far removed from any return to spirituality. It will take time to build the bridge between Astronomy and Astrology and meanwhile all sorts of theories will be devised in an attempt to give a purely materialistic explanation of the planetary movements, and so on. In the case of the chemical and biological sciences the bridge will be even more difficult to build.
The building of a bridge can be easiest of all in the domain of Psychology — the science of the soul. The first requisite will be to understand the conclusion of my lectures on ‘Psychosophy’ where I showed that the stream of soul-life flows not only from the past into the future but also from the future into the past. There are two streams of time: the etheric stream, flowing into the future, and the astral stream, moving from the future back into the past. It is unlikely that anyone in the world today will discover anything of this character without a spiritual impulse, but there can be no real grasp of the life of soul until we recognise that something is perpetually coming towards us from the future. This concept is essential. We shall have to rid ourselves of the mode of thought which looks only to the past when cause and effect are being considered. We shall have to learn to speak of the future as something real, something moving towards us, just as we trail the past behind us. It will be a long time before such concepts are accepted; but until they are there will be no real Psychology.
The nineteenth century produced a really bright idea: Psychology without Soul! People were very proud of it. Roughly, what it meant was that psychological study should be confined to the external manifestations of the human soul and should take no account of the soul itself from which they originated. A science of the soul without soul! As a method this might be possible; but the outcome, to use a rough analogy, is a meal without food. That is modern Psychology. People are anything but satisfied if you give them a meal with nothing on their plates, but nineteenth century science was wonderfully content with a Psychology without soul. Such a trend began at a comparatively early stage and spiritual life must flow as a strong impulse into this whole domain.
The old life has come to an end and a new life must begin. We must feel that there was given to us from the ancient Atlantean epoch a primeval wisdom which has gradually withered away and that in our present incarnation we are faced with the task of gathering a new wisdom for the men of a later time. To make this possible was the purpose of the Christ Impulse, and the activity and power of that Impulse will continually increase. It may be that the Christ Impulse will work most strongly when all tradition — in history too — has died away and men find their way to Christ Himself as the true reality.
You can see, then, that the course of post-Atlantean evolution and the life of an individual human being are comparable as Macrocosm with Microcosm. But the individual is in a strange situation. What is there left to him in the second part of his life but to absorb and assimilate what he acquired for himself in the first half? And when that is all used up, death follows. The spirit alone can be victorious over death and carry forward into a new incarnation what begins to decay after the half-way point of life has been passed. Development is on the ascent until the thirty-fifth year. After that there is decline. But it is precisely then that the spirit takes a hand. What it cannot incorporate into the bodily nature of man during the second half of life it brings to blossom in a later incarnation. As the body withers the spirit gradually comes to fruition.
The macrocosm of humanity as a whole reveals a similar picture. Until the fourth post-Atlantean epoch there is a youthful, thriving development of culture. From then onwards there is a decline — symptoms of death everywhere in the evolution of human consciousness, but at the same time the inflow of new spiritual life which will incarnate again as the spiritual life of humanity in the culture-epoch following our own. But man must work with full consciousness on what is subsequently to incarnate again. The rest will die away. We can look prophetically into the future and see the birth of many sciences seeming to benefit post-Atlantean civilisation although they belong to what is dying. But the life that is poured into humanity under the direct influence of the Christ Impulse will come to manifestation in the future just as the Atlantean knowledge came again to manifestation in the holy Rishis.
Ordinary science knows of the Copernican system only that part which is in process of dying. The part that will live on and bear fruit — and that is not the part that has been influential for four centuries — must now be mastered by men through their own efforts. Copernicanism as presented to-day is not strictly true. Spiritual investigation alone can reveal its real truth. The same holds good for Astronomy, and for everything else that is regarded as knowledge to-day. Science can of course be of practical use and as technology completely justified. But in so far as it pretends to contribute to human knowledge in its real form, it is a dead product. It is useful for the immediate handiwork of men and for that no spiritual content is necessary. But as far as it purports to have anything vital to say about the mysteries of the Universe it belongs to the culture that is dying. If knowledge of the mysteries of the Universe is to be enriched, the orthodox science of to-day must be imbued with life through the findings of Spiritual Science.
The foregoing lectures were intended as an introduction to the study of St. Mark's Gospel which we shall now begin. I had first to show how essential this greatest of all spiritual impulses was for human evolution just at the time when only the last, most tenuous threads of spirituality remained to mankind.