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The Responsibility of Man for World Evolution
GA 203

Lecture III

11 MArch 1921, Dornach

I should like today to put before you a kind of summary of facts that we already know from one aspect or another. They must, however, be brought to mind again and again if we would form impulses out of the depths of the knowledge of Spiritual Science for what is necessary to human activity in the present day.

I have often spoken to you of the different streams working together to form the whole world in which the human being is placed, and we know the terminology: Luciferic, Ahrimanic, and that which, as it were, is the state of balance between those two and which is best expressed by speaking of the Christ-stream. You know indeed that the central Group of our Building is to bring to expression this very mystery of the trinity of the three aspects—the Luciferic, the Ahrimanic, and that of the Christ.

When we consider man, who is ultimately the confluence of the forces of the cosmos, we can plainly see how these three streams work through him. We know that we have to distinguish what in the main—you know how that is to be understood—is the Head-organisation, the bearer of the nerves-senses system. We must then distinguish the Rhythmic-system which includes, as its most important part, the breathing rhythm and the blood circulation, that is to say, all that takes its course rhythmically. And then as the third principle of external man we must consider the Metabolic-system which is intimately connected with the development of the limb-system. We know moreover that we can conceive this trinity of man from the aspect of the soul. For the nerves-senses organisation is in essentials the bearer of the life of thought, of concepts. The rhythmic organisation is the bearer of the feeling-life, and the metabolic organisation is the bearer of the life of will. Now let us be clear about the following: We only possess a real day-consciousness, a consciousness fully permeated by light, by virtue of our nerves-senses system, and the life of concepts that develops in it. The rhythmic system, or we can also say the breast system, is the bearer of the feeling-life; feelings are developed in the middle part of the soul. And the bodily basis for the feelings is the rhythmic system. We have often shown that the feeling system is not permeated by clear bright consciousness in the same way as the conceptual life. If we examine the soul-life of man without prejudice we can only say that the feeling-life has no greater clearness of consciousness than the dream. Dream-life with its pictures and feeling-life are equally conscious and equally unconscious. They only seem different because the life of feeling is not experienced in pictures but only in the quality of the soul which forms no pictures. Dreams live in pictures and they are thus differentiated; in intensity of consciousness, however, they do not differ from each other.

Completely wrapped in unconsciousness, like man's state between going to sleep and waking, is the will-life with its bodily basis of the metabolic-limb system. In respect of his life of will man is a completely sleeping being, even if wide awake. When he wills he really only sees what is brought about through his will, he has this before him as he has anything else. But what is actually active in the will, the inner soul-experience and willing, that is actually slept through, as the feeling life is dreamt through.

Now let us consider this sleeping will-life, consider it from the bodily aspect, this sleeping metabolic and limb-life. Man in his whole being stands not merely in the surrounding world of physical nature; he stands in a spiritual world as well. He stands with his whole being, no matter to what degree of consciousness this being has advanced, within the spiritual cosmos.

If we now look at the will, we can say something of this sort: If that is the spiritual cosmos (see diagram, circle) which, at the moment I will not characterise further—you know “spiritual cosmos” is very universal, one can always take only a part of it—then this (red) would be a certain part of the spiritual cosmos, namely, that to which our will- life, metabolic-limb-life, mainly belongs.

Diagram 1

If you think of the will-life separated out of man psychically and the metabolic-limb system bodily and ask how that is incorporated into a spiritual cosmos, then this whole relationship to a spiritual cosmos shall be represented to begin with through this diagram. And the question arises: What is this white? We know that the red is man's will regarded from the aspect of the soul, or the metabolic-limb life from the aspect of the body, but what is it to which this life belongs? I should like to express myself in another way. If you consider some member of the human organism, the liver, for instance, then you will say to yourself: this liver belongs to the whole organism and has a significance within the whole organism. In the same way, within a great organism, a world-organism, which is here represented white, we can consider as a member the whole human metabolic-limb system, the will-system. And then the question arises: What is this great cosmic organism in which is embedded, so to say, the human will-life, the metabolic-limb life?

You see, that in which man is embedded with regard to his third member is the cosmic life of those Beings whom the Bible calls the Elohim. Really and truly, just as we live in outer nature which we perceive through our senses, we live in the life of the Elohim with that part of our being whose activity we actually sleep through.

Now we will speak of these things more exactly; I want at first only to characterise them to you. Let us consider the life of the Elohim in the whole cosmic evolution. If you re-read my “Occult Science” you will find that they are the Spirits of Form, and that they ascend from former stages of evolution, If we go back to the earlier evolutionary stage of the cosmic Moon-existence, these Spirits of Form were there Archai, Original Forces, Primal Beginnings. If we go back to the Sun-existence they are there Archangels; and if we go back to the Saturn existence, they were there Angels. Thus they have ascended since that time and have come to the Elohim existence, to the existence of the Spirits of Form.

When we look at our human evolution and say to ourselves: We too are evolving; when shall we reach the height at which these Spirits are now? We shall be at this height when we have gone through the Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan existence and are in that existence which follows after. If you add together what I have described in my “Occult Science,” you have seven successive evolutionary stages, one could say seven successive evolutionary spheres. And the Spirits of Form have entered the eighth evolutionary sphere.

























That characterises the position of the Elohim. As the Earth came into being they were at the stage which for us human beings is characterised as the Vulcan existence. They ascended into the eighth sphere. Wow the great question, the great cosmic question, was: How does it stand, or how did it stand within human beings during this Earth-existence? You see, as man was formerly a member in the evolution of the Elohim, he was in the position of remaining such a member. The Elohim evolved during the Saturn, Sun, Moon evolution to the stage which I have now described to you. There they carried in their womb, as it were, the human being as you find him depicted in my “Occult Science.” But all that I described there rested in fact in the womb of the Elohim. It is described in the same way as if I were to describe to you the development of the liver. If it were described in its stages, it rests in fact in the womb of the human being. And the whole development of man, as I have described it, rested in the womb of the Elohim.

Now when the Earth came into existence, there was the question: Will man now remain simply an inseparable member in the great organism which mounts to its eighth sphere, the great organism of the Elohim, or will he develop to freedom and become independent? This question of whether men should become independent was decided through a most definite cosmic act. In respect of our will-system psychically and our metabolic-limb system we are indeed parts of the Elohim, there we are asleep. There we are not separate. We are separated, severed, in respect of our head-system.

What occasioned this severance? It came about through the fact that certain Spiritual Beings who by a normal evolution would also have become Elohim did not become Elohim, they remained behind at the stage of Archai or Archangeloi. We can say, therefore, that they are Beings who, if they had advanced normally, could have been Elohim. But they did not advance normally, they stayed behind. They belong, when we regard them occultly today, to the same sphere to which the Angels, the Archangels, belong; but they are not the same nature as the Angels or Archangels or Archaic They are actually of the same nature as the Elohim, the Spirits of Form, but have remained behind in their evolution and have fallen into the hosts of Angels and Archangels, manifesting themselves in the same sphere. Their activity has had to confine itself; they do not work upon the whole man, nor on what man has pre-eminently acquired upon earth, the metabolic-limb system, but they work upon the head-system of man. I will draw here the head-system (see diagram, rose) as the counter-pole of the will-system, the metabolic-limb system. Here the great cosmic organism of the Elohim is not active, but actively at work are the backward Elohim whom I will draw so (yellow), working in this sphere together with Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai. These Beings, the laggard Elohim, are actually opponents of the other Elohim. The other Elohim have separated man off from themselves, but they would not have been able to give him freedom because they have an influence on the whole man. On the other hand, the laggard Spirits of Form restrict themselves to the head and gave man reason, intellect. They are essentially the Luciferic spirits and as you may see from what has been said, they are givers-of-will on a lower level. The Elohim give will to the whole man; they give will to the head. The head would otherwise be filled only with will-less concepts. Concepts only become rational by being penetrated with will and becoming the power of judgment. That has come about through these spirits.

Diagram 2

You will perhaps realise from what has now been depicted from a certain aspect that one must not apply cut-and-dried ideas when one considers cosmic opposing forces. One must not simply treat the Luciferic spirits with scorn, turn a cold shoulder—if I may express myself so—but one must be clear that these spirits are of an essentially higher order than man himself. In fact, they are not actually opponents of man, they are opponents of the Elohim because they have remained behind in evolution and confine themselves to the human head. That is what we must bear in mind.

If you picture what these Spirits would really attain if they had an entirely free hand with human evolution one comes to the following. When the Earth cane into existence, there were the Elohim risen to their high rank while the others had stayed behind at earlier stages of evolution. These are in this way the bearers of what was pre-eminently imprinted into man from the past, from the Saturn, Sun, Moon existence, the bearers of what is to be implanted into man of the sublime past which we went through in the three former metamorphoses of evolution.

Since they have remained behind and set themselves in opposition, as it were, to what the Elohim purposed for the human beings of the Earth we can say of them: These Beings who are really Spirits of Form but who meet us in the spiritual world among the ranks of the Angels, Archangels and Archai imprint into man all that would like to keep him from descending to a complete earth existence. They would really like to keep him above the mineral kingdom. They would prefer man to experience only what is in the sprouting plant world, what lives in the animal world and in the actually human world. But they do not want him to come down to the dead mineral world. And in particular they desire above all that he should have no contact with our technics. That enrages these Spirits. They would like to keep man in a spiritual sphere and not let him descend to the earth. In this way they are opponents of the Elohim, because the Elohim, who have made man solidly firm in the dust of the earth, as the Bible expresses it, have drawn him down into the mineral kingdom. But freedom, the freedom which man is to experience in the earthly element, actually does not depend on just those Spirits who would keep him free of the earthly,

Now, by means of the Elohim man has been established in the terrestrial mineral world and this has enabled still other spirits to gain access. Note carefully the difference between the Spirits of whom I have just spoken and the Spirits of whom I have still to speak. Those of whom I spoke earlier are in the spheres where the Angels, the Archangels and the Archai are to be found. We find them among the hosts of these Spirits and it is they who bring flexibility, mobile reasoning, into the human head, the activity of phantasy, art, and so on. But because man has been pressed down into the mineral kingdom, because the Elohim have given him an independence which is no full independence, for he experiences it asleep in his will and metabolic system—because of this, other Spirits have secured admittance. They smuggle themselves, as it were, into evolution. The Spirits of whom I spoke before have been present throughout evolution, they have only stayed behind; they were not able to share in it but they are backward Elohim, present in the cosmos with the Elohim, only not willing to let man come quite down to earth. He has, however, come down to earth through the Elohim.

And now from outside came other Spirits. We find them if we direct the occult gaze to the Hosts of the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones. Of the Spirits actually belonging to this order some again have remained behind. They have not entered these hosts, they have only become Spirits of Wisdom. One can say of them that they would really like to begin quite a new creation' on the earth, they would like to preserve a thorough earth-man. He has been incorporated in the mineral kingdom through the Elohim and they would like to take this as a beginning and from then on carry evolution further. They would like to wipe out the whole past; “Oh dear, the past,” they say, “that no longer bothers us; man has come down into the mineral kingdom, now let us tear him away from the Elohim, they do not need him, let us tear him away from the Elohim and begin a new evolution. Let him be the original member and then live on and on!”—

Those are the Ahrimanic Beings. They want to expunge the whole of the past and leave man with merely what he has gained directly on the earth.

You see how the Elohim take a middle stand; they would like to link the past with the future. The Spirits whom I described before would like to permeate man through and through with his lofty past. The other Spirits want to wipe out the entire past, take away from the Elohim what man is out of the dust of the earth and make a new beginning, make evolution only begin from the earth onwards, Away with this “balloon” of Saturn, Sun, Moon. None of that is to have any meaning for man. A new evolution is to begin with the Earth; this is to be the new Saturn, then a new Sun comes, and so on. That is the ideal of these Beings. They break into man's unconsciousness, into the will-life, the metabolic-limb-life, that is where they make their attack. They are that race among the Spiritual Beings who want to give man a special interest for the mineral-material, an interest in what is externally mechanistic. They would particularly like to destroy everything that the Earth has brought over from the Old Moon. They would like the animal world to disappear, the physical human world to disappear, the plant world to disappear, and of the mineral world only the physical laws to remain. Above all they would like human beings to be removed from the earth and to form a new Saturn out of machines, a new world purely of machines. In this way, the world should go on; that is actually their ideal. In the domain of external science it is their ideal to reduce everything to matter, to mechanise. In the sphere of religion these two polarities are plainly to be perceived.

In former times, as you know from other lectures that I have given here, men were more exposed to the Spirits of the first kind who work on the head-nature. Even in the time of Plato you find that if one spoke of the eternity of the human soul, it was especially of the pre-natal existence and what one actually remembered of this previous existence. That ceased gradually the further we come Into the Middle Ages, until the Church entirely prohibited a belief in pre-existence. Today this belief is held by the Church to be heresy. Thus on the one hand there is a tendency to the knowledge of pre-existence, on the other hand the Ahrimanised Church which continues man's life only beyond his death and makes his future existence merely the fruit of what he is here on earth.

You have that as an article of faith—what a human being experiences here in physical life he carries with him through death. His soul always looks back to that. The whole succeeding life is actually only the continuation of what was here between his birth and death. That is precisely the same as what the Ahrimanic Spirits want. This is just the important question that lies before mankind today: Shall the Ahrimanic faith go on flourishing as if there were only a life after death, or shall the consciousness of pre-existence re-awaken and shall it then come to a union of pre-existence and post-existence through a centre balance?

That is what Spiritual Science must seek, the Christ-principle, the equilibrium between the Luciferic-Ahrimanic—on the one side pre-existence and post-existence on the other. That is the weighty problem of the present day, namely, that after humanity has succumbed for a time to the Ahrimanic belief in a mere post-existence, we should unite with it the consciousness, the knowledge, of pre-existence, in order to come to a conception of full humanity.