VI. The Present and Future of Cosmic Evolution
It is impossible to know anything of the present and future of human and cosmic evolution in the sense of spiritual science without a knowledge of this evolution in the past. For what presents itself to the perception of the spiritual researcher when he observes the hidden facts of the past contains simultaneously all he can know of the present and future. This book has dealt with the evolution of Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth. It is impossible to understand the Earth evolution, in the sense of spiritual science, if one does not observe the facts of the preceding evolutionary cycles. For the facts of the Moon, Sun, and Saturn evolutions are contained in a certain sense within the conditions that confront the human being at present within the sphere of the earth. The beings and things that participated in the Moon evolution have evolved further. Everything that belongs to the present earth came out of them. For physical-sensory consciousness, however, not everything is perceptible that, having come from the Moon, has become the Earth. A part of what has evolved over from the Moon becomes evident only at a certain stage of supersensible consciousness. When this knowledge is attained, then we perceive that our earth is bound to a supersensible world, containing the part of the Moon existence that has not condensed to the condition of physical sense-perception. This supersensible world contains the uncondensed part of the Moon as it is at present, not as it was at the time of the ancient Moon evolution. Supersensible consciousness, however, is able to obtain a picture of the previous condition. If this supersensible consciousness concentrates upon the perception it can have at the present time, it becomes evident that, quite by itself, it gradually resolves itself into two pictures. One of these presents the shape the Earth had during its Moon evolution; the manner in which the other picture shows itself, however, reveals that it contains a form that is still in its germinal stage and that will only become real in the future in the sense that the earth is now real. Further observation shows that, in a certain sense, the effect of what happens upon the earth streams continually into this future form. In this form we have, therefore, before us what is to be our earth in the future. The effects of earth existence will unite with what happens in the characterized world and out of this will arise the new cosmic being into which the Earth will be transformed, just as the Moon has transformed itself into the Earth. We may call this future form the Jupiter evolution. If we observe this Jupiter stage with supersensible perception, we can see that in the future certain processes must take place, because in the supersensible part of the Earth that originated on the Moon certain beings and things are present that will assume certain forms when, within the earth of the physical senses, this or that will have taken place. In the Jupiter evolution something will, therefore, exist that has already been determined by the Moon evolution, and it will contain new factors that enter into the entire evolution only through terrestrial processes. Because of this, supersensible consciousness may learn something of what will happen during the Jupiter state. The beings and facts perceived within this field of consciousness do not possess the nature of sense images; they do not even appear as delicate, airy structures from which effects might proceed which remind us of sense-impressions. They give us pure spiritual impressions of tone, light, and warmth. The latter do not express themselves through any sort of material embodiment. They can be comprehended only through supersensible consciousness. We may, nevertheless, say that these beings possess a “body.” Yet this body shows itself within their soul nature, which reveals itself as their present being, like a sum of condensed memories which they bear within their soul. We are able to distinguish in their being between what they now experience, and what they have experienced and remember. The latter is contained within them like a bodily nature. They experience it just as the earth man experiences his body. At a stage of supersensible perception higher than the one just described as necessary for the cognition of Moon and Jupiter, supersensible beings and things become visible that are the further developed forms of what was already present during the Sun evolution, but which has attained at present such a high stage of evolution that it does not at all exist for a consciousness that has only attained to the perception of Moon forms. The picture of this world also resolves itself into two pictures during inner meditation. One of these leads to the cognition of the past Sun evolution, the other presents a future form of the Earth; that is to say, the form into which the Earth will have transformed itself when the effects of the Earth and Jupiter processes have streamed into the forms of that world. What we thus observe of this future world may be designated, in the sense of spiritual science, as the Venus evolution. In a similar manner there is, for a still more highly developed supersensible consciousness, a future stage of evolution that may be designated Vulcan evolution. It has a relationship to the Saturn evolution similar to the one the Venus evolution has to the Sun evolution, and the Jupiter evolution has to the Moon evolution. We may, therefore, if we consider the past, present and future of Earth evolution, speak of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan evolutions. — Just as these all-encompassing relationships of the Earth evolution result for our consciousness, so also there result observations of a nearer future. Every picture of the past corresponds also to one of the future. Yet in speaking of such things something must be emphasized which, of necessity, must be given due consideration. If we wish to recognize such matters we must discard completely the opinion that philosophical reflection, trained merely by external reality, is able to discover anything about them. These things cannot and never should be investigated by such a mode of thinking. If a person were to believe, when he has received communications through spiritual science about the Moon evolution, that through such reflection he might discover how things will appear on Jupiter by combining the relationships of Earth and Moon, he will fall prey to enormous deceptions. Research into these relationships is only to be made when supersensible consciousness has lifted itself to higher observation. Only when what has thus been discovered is communicated can it be understood without supersensible consciousness.
Concerning the communications about the future, the researcher of the spiritual is in a position different from the position concerning those about the past. The human being cannot, at the outset, confront future events as impartially as he can confront the past. What will occur in the future stirs human feelings and will; the past is endured in quite a different manner. Whoever observes life knows how true this already is for ordinary existence. To what an enormous degree this increases, what forms it assumes in regard to the hidden facts of life only he can know who is cognizant of certain things of the supersensible worlds. This is the reason why the knowledge of these things is fixed within quite definite limits.
Just as the great cosmic evolution can be presented in the succession of its states from the Saturn to the Vulcan evolution, it is also possible to present smaller time-divisions; those of the Earth evolution, for example. Since that enormous catastrophe that brought the ancient Atlantean civilization to an end there have been successive stages within human evolution that in this book have been designated as the ancient Indian, the ancient Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, and the Greco-Latin epochs of culture. The fifth period is the one in which mankind now stands, the present. This period gradually began during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries A.D., after it had prepared itself since the fourth and fifth centuries. From the fifteenth century onward it emerged quite clearly. The preceding Greco-Latin culture began about the eighth century B.C. At the end of its first third, the Christ event occurred. The condition of the human soul and all the human faculties changed with the transition from the Egypto-Chaldean to the Greco-Latin cultural period. In the former there was not yet present what we now know as logical cogitation, as intellectual comprehension of the world. What the human being now acquires as knowledge through his intellect he received in the form that was fitting for that time: directly through an inner, in a certain respect, supersensible knowledge. He perceived objects, and while perceiving them their concept, their image, needed by the soul, arose in its inner being. With the power of cognition described, not only images of the physical sense world emerge, but from the depths of the soul there arises a certain knowledge of non-sensory facts and beings. This was the remnant of ancient dim clairvoyant consciousness, once the common possession of all mankind. During the Greco-Latin period there arose more and more human beings who lacked such faculties. Instead of these faculties, intellectual reflection upon objects began to appear. Human beings were by degrees removed from a direct, dreamlike perception of the world of soul and spirit and were ever more dependent upon a picture of that world, formed by their intellect and feeling. This state continued in a certain respect throughout the entire fourth post-Atlantean period. Only those individuals who had preserved the ancient soul condition like a heritage could still receive the spiritual world directly into their consciousness. These individuals, however, are stragglers of a more ancient epoch. The kind of knowledge they possessed no longer fitted the new age. For it is a consequence of the laws of evolution that an ancient soul faculty loses its full significance when new faculties appear. Human life then adapts itself to these new faculties, and it is no longer able to exercise the old faculties. There were, however, also individuals who in a quite conscious manner began to develop, besides the acquired powers of intellect and feeling, other higher faculties that again made it possible for them to penetrate into the world of soul and spirit. They had to begin to do this in a manner quite different from what was customary for the pupils of the ancient initiates. The latter did not yet have to consider the soul faculties first developed in the fourth cultural period. In that period the method of spiritual training began that has been described in this book as the present-day method. But it was at that time only in its infancy; it could be properly developed only in the fifth cultural period, actually since the twelfth and thirteenth — chiefly the fifteenth — centuries of our era. Human beings who in this way sought to ascend into the supersensible world were able to experience through their own imagination, inspiration, and intuition something of higher realms of existence. Those who remained satisfied with the developed faculties of intellect and feeling could learn only from tradition, what ancient clairvoyance knew, and which was transmitted from generation to generation by word of mouth, or in writing.
Something of the real nature of the Christ event could also be known only from tradition by those born after the event, if they had not attained a perception of the supersensible worlds. There were, however, certain initiates who still possessed the natural clairvoyant perception of the supersensible world and who through their development could elevate themselves to a higher world in spite of the fact that they paid no attention to the new powers of intellect and soul. Through such initiates a transition was created from the old method of initiation to the new. Such personalities existed also in subsequent periods. It was the chief characteristic of the fourth cultural epoch that the soul's exclusion from direct intercourse with the world of soul and spirit strengthened the human being in his powers of intellect and feeling. The souls who were incarnated at that time with highly developed powers of intellect and feeling carried over the result of this development into their incarnations in the fifth cultural period. As a compensation for this exclusion from intercourse with the world of soul and spirit the mighty traditions of primeval wisdom were then available to man — and especially those concerning the Christ event — traditions that by the very power of their content gave the souls a confident knowledge of the higher worlds. — But human beings always existed who developed the higher powers of knowledge in addition to the faculties of intellect and feeling. It was their task to experience the facts of the higher world and chiefly the mystery of the Christ event through direct supersensible cognition. From them there flowed into the souls of other men as much as was comprehensible and good for them. — In harmony with the meaning of Earth evolution, the first spreading of Christianity had of necessity to occur just at a time when the powers of supersensible cognition had not been developed in a large portion of mankind. It was because of this that the force of tradition was so powerful at that time. The strongest possible force was needed to lead men, who were themselves unable to behold this world, to a trust in the supersensible world. There were almost always — if we disregard a brief period of exception in the thirteenth century — individuals who were able to elevate themselves to higher worlds through imagination, inspiration, and intuition. These men are the post-Christian successors of the ancient initiates, of the leaders and members of the institutions of mystery wisdom. They had the task of recognizing, by means of their own faculties, what had been comprehensible through ancient mystery wisdom, to which they had to add the knowledge of the essential nature of the Christ event.
A knowledge thus arose among these new initiates that included everything that was the subject of ancient initiation, but in the center of this knowledge there radiated the higher wisdom of the mysteries of the Christ event. Only in a small degree could such knowledge flow into general life, while the human souls of the fourth period of culture had to consolidate the faculties of intellect and feeling. Thus it was at that time a very “hidden knowledge.” Then the dawn of the new age broke, which is to be designated as the fifth cultural period. Its nature consists in the advance of the evolution of the intellectual faculties, which have unfolded to an exuberant blossoming and will unfold still further in the present and into the future. This prepared itself slowly, beginning with the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, in order to accelerate its advance from the sixteenth century onward into the present time. Under these influences, the chief objective of the evolution of the fifth cultural epoch was the fostering of the powers of the intellect, whereas the confident knowledge of former ages, traditional knowledge, lost more and more of its power over the human soul. But in its place there developed what may be called an increasingly stronger influx into human souls of the knowledge gained through modern supersensible consciousness. The “hidden knowledge” flows, although quite unnoticed at the beginning, into the mode of thinking of the men of this period. It is only self-evident that, up to the present, intellectual forces reject this knowledge. But what must happen will happen, in spite of all temporary rejection. The “hidden knowledge,” which from this side takes hold of mankind now and will take hold of it more and more in the future, may be called symbolically “the wisdom of the Grail.” If this symbol, as it is given in legend and myth, is understood in its deeper meaning, we shall find that it is a significant image of the nature of what has been spoken of above as the knowledge of the new initiation, with the Christ mystery at its center. The modern initiates may, therefore, also be called “initiates of the Grail.” The way into the supersensible worlds, the first stages of which have been described in this book, leads to the “science of the Grail.” This knowledge has the peculiarity that research into its facts can be made only if one has acquired the necessary means that have been described in this book. If, however, such research has been made, these facts can then be understood through the soul forces developed in the fifth cultural period. Indeed, it will become more and more evident that these forces, in an ever higher degree, will find satisfaction through this knowledge. We move now in an age in which this knowledge ought to be received more abundantly into general consciousness than was previously the case, and it is from this point of view that this book desires to impart its information. To the degree to which the development of mankind will absorb the knowledge of the Grail, the impulse given through the Christ event can become ever more significant. To the external aspect of Christian development the inner aspect will be joined more and more. What may be known through imagination, inspiration, and intuition about the higher worlds in connection with the Christ mystery will increasingly permeate the thought, feeling, and will-life of humanity. The “concealed knowledge of the Grail” will be revealed; as an inner force it will permeate more and more the manifestations of human life.
Throughout the fifth cultural period the knowledge of supersensible worlds will flow into human consciousness, and when the sixth period begins, mankind will have been able to re-attain at a higher stage what it has possessed of non-sensory perception at an earlier period in a still dim way. The new possession will, however, have a form quite different from the old. What the soul knew in ancient times of higher worlds was not permeated by its own power of intellect and feeling; that knowledge came as an inspiration. In the future the soul will not merely have inspirations, but it will comprehend them and feel them as being of its own being. If knowledge about this or that being or thing dawns upon the soul, the intellect will then find it justified through its own nature; if a knowledge of a different kind asserts itself — knowledge of a moral law, or a human relationship — the soul will then say to itself: My feeling can only justify itself when I act in accordance with this knowledge. Such a soul state is to be developed by a sufficiently large number of human beings of the sixth cultural period. — What the third, the Egypto-Chaldean cultural period, has bestowed upon human evolution repeats itself, in a certain way, in the fifth period. In the third period the soul still perceived certain facts of the supersensible world, but the perception of this world was disappearing. The intellectual powers were preparing themselves for their evolution, and they were, for the time being, to exclude the human being from the higher world. In the fifth cultural period the supersensible facts, which in the third period were perceived by a hazy clairvoyance, again become manifest. Now they are permeated with the forces of human intellect and personal feeling. They become permeated also with what can be imparted to the soul through the knowledge of the Christ mystery. Hence they assume quite a different form from the one possessed previously. Whereas the impressions received from the supersensible worlds were felt in ancient times as forces giving impulses to the human being from an external spiritual world in which he did not dwell, these impressions will be felt, through the development of the modern age, as proceeding from a world into which the human being grows and in which he participates progressively more and more. No one should believe that the Egypto-Chaldean culture will repeat itself in such a way that the soul will simply receive what existed at that time and has been handed down by tradition. The Christ impulse, rightly understood, works in such a way that the human soul who has received it feels, recognizes, and conducts itself as a member of a spiritual world, outside of which it had previously dwelt. — Whereas in this way the third epoch reappears in the fifth, in order to permeate human souls with what the fourth epoch has brought as something completely new, something similar will be the case with the sixth epoch in regard to the second and the seventh in regard to the first, the ancient Indian epoch. All the marvels of wisdom of ancient India that the great teachers of that time could proclaim will be able to reappear as truth of life of human souls in the seventh cultural epoch.
The transformations in the things of the earth existing outside the human being occur with a certain relationship to humanity's own evolution. After the seventh cultural period has run its course, the earth will be visited by a catastrophe that may be likened to what occurred between the Atlantean and post-Atlantean ages, and the transformed earth conditions after this catastrophe will again evolve in seven time periods. Human souls who will then be incarnated will experience, at a higher stage, the union with the higher world experienced by the Atlanteans at a lower stage. Only those human beings, however, in whom are incarnated souls that have developed in a manner possible through the influences of the Greco-Latin epoch and the subsequent fifth, sixth, and seventh cultural epochs of the post-Atlantean evolution will be able to cope with the newly formed earth conditions. The inner being of such souls will correspond to what the earth has then become. Other souls will then have to remain behind, whereas previously they would have had the choice of creating the conditions for advancement. Souls who will have created the possibility for themselves, in the transition from the fifth to the sixth post-Atlantean period, of penetrating supersensible knowledge with the forces of intellect and feeling, will have the maturity for the corresponding conditions following the next great catastrophe. The fifth and sixth periods are, so to speak, decisive. In the seventh, the souls who will have reached the goal of the sixth will develop correspondingly further; the other souls, however, will, under the changed conditions of the environment, find but little opportunity of retrieving what they have neglected. Only at some future time will conditions appear again that will permit this. — Evolution thus advances from age to age. Supersensible cognition not only observes such future changes in which the earth alone takes part, but it is also aware of changes that occur in co-operation with the heavenly bodies in its environment. A time will come when the evolution of the earth and mankind will have advanced so far that the spiritual powers and beings that had to sever themselves from the earth during the Lemurian age, in order to make possible the continued progress of the earth's beings, will be able to unite themselves again with the earth. The moon will then reunite with the earth. This will occur because at that time a sufficiently large number of human souls will possess so much inner strength that they will use these moon forces for the benefit of further evolution. This will occur at a time when, alongside the high level of development that will have been reached by a certain number of human souls, another development will occur that has taken the direction toward evil. The laggard souls will have accumulated in their karma so much error, ugliness, and evil that they will form, for the time being, a special union of evil and aberrant human beings who violently oppose the community of good men.
The good humanity will through its development acquire the use of the moon forces and thereby so transform the evil part also that, as a special realm of the earth, it may participate in further evolution. Through this work of the good humanity, the earth, united with the moon, will be able, after a certain period of evolution, to reunite also with the sun and with the other planets. Then, after an intermediate stage, which presents itself as a sojourn in a higher world, the Earth will transform itself into Jupiter. Within this state, what is now called the mineral kingdom will no longer exist; the forces of this mineral kingdom will be transformed into plant forces. The plant kingdom, which in contrast to the present plant kingdom will have an entirely new form, appears during the Jupiter state as the lowest kingdom. To this a higher kingdom is added, the transformed animal kingdom; above it there is a human kingdom, which proves to be the progeny of the evil community that arose on the earth; above all these are to be found the descendants of the good community of earth men, a human kingdom of a higher order. A great part of the activity of this latter human kingdom consists in the work of ennobling the fallen souls of the evil community, so that they may still be able to find their way back into the actual human kingdom. The Venus evolution will be one in which the plant kingdom also will have disappeared; the lowest kingdom at that time will be the retransformed animal kingdom; this will be joined on an ascending scale by three human kingdoms of different degrees of perfection. During the Venus state the earth remains united with the sun; during the Jupiter state, however, evolution proceeds in such a way that at a certain point of time the sun departs once more from Jupiter and the latter receives its effects from the outside. After a time, the union of sun and Jupiter [ Jupiter minus the sun in contradistinction to Jupiter with the sun. (Tr.)] again occurs and the transformation gradually proceeds over into the Venus state. During that state a special cosmic body splits off that contains all the beings who have resisted evolution, a so to speak “irredeemable moon,” which now moves toward an evolution, for the character of which no expression can be found because it is too dissimilar to anything that man can experience on earth. The evolved mankind, however, advances in a completely spiritualized existence to the Vulcan evolution, the description of which does not lie within the scope of this book.
We see that the highest imaginable ideal of human evolution results from the “knowledge of the Grail”: the spiritualization that man acquires through his own efforts. For this spiritualization appears finally as a result of the harmony that he produces in the fifth and sixth cultural periods of present evolution between the acquired powers of intellect and feeling and the knowledge of the supersensible worlds. What he there produces in the inmost depths of his soul is finally itself to become the outer world. The human spirit elevates itself to the tremendous impressions of its outer world and first divines and afterwards recognizes spiritual beings behind these impressions; man's heart feels the boundless sublimity of the spiritual. The human being can also recognize that his inner experiences of intellect, feeling, and character are the indications of a nascent world of the spirit.
Whoever believes that human freedom is not compatible with foreknowledge and predestination of the future condition of things, should consider that free human action in the future depends just as little upon the character the predestined things will have as this freedom depends upon his resolve to live in a house a year hence, the plan of which he determines today. He will be as free as it is possible for him to be according to his inner nature, precisely in the house he has built for himself; and he will be as free upon Jupiter and Venus as his inner life permits just within the conditions that will arise there. Freedom will not depend upon what has been predestined by antecedent conditions, but upon what the soul has made of itself.
Within the Earth evolution is contained what has evolved during the preceding Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions. The earth man finds “wisdom” in the processes that take place in his environment. This wisdom is present as the result of what had happened previously. The Earth is the descendant of the ancient Moon which, with all that belonged to it, formed itself into the “cosmos of wisdom.” The Earth is the beginning of an evolution through which a new force is added to this wisdom. It brings the human being to the point where he feels himself an independent member of the spirit world. This rests on the fact that his ego is fashioned by the Spirits of Form during the Earth evolution, just as upon Saturn the Spirits of Will formed his physical body, upon the Sun the Spirits of Wisdom his life-body, and upon the Moon the Spirits of Motion his astral body. The manifestation of wisdom appears through the co-operation of the Spirits of Will, Wisdom, and Motion. The Earth beings and Earth processes can harmonize in wisdom with the other beings of their world through the work of these three classes of spirits. From the Spirits of Form the human being receives his independent ego. In the future this ego will harmonize with the beings of Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan through the power that is added to wisdom by the Earth evolution. This is the power of love. In earth humanity this power of love must take its beginning, and the “cosmos of wisdom” unfolds itself into a “cosmos of love.” Everything that the ego is able to unfold within itself is to become love. The exalted Sun Being Whom we are able to characterize in the description of the Christ evolution manifests Himself as the all-encompassing “archetype of love.” Thus the seed of love is planted into the innermost core of human nature. And from there it is to flow into the whole of evolution. Just as the previously formed wisdom reveals itself in the forces of the sensory external world of the earth, in the present-day “nature forces,” so in the future love will reveal itself in all phenomena as a new nature force. It is the mystery of all evolution into the future that knowledge and all that the human being does through a true understanding of evolution is a sowing of seed that must ripen as love, and the greater the force of love coming into being, the greater will be the accomplishments of creative force in the future. In what will be created from love will lie the strong forces leading to the above described culminating result of spiritualization. The greater the amount of spiritual cognition that flows into human and earth evolution, the greater will be the number of fertile seeds for the future. Spiritual knowledge is transmuted by its very nature into love. The entire process that has been described, beginning with the Greco-Latin cultural epoch and extending through our present epoch, shows how this transformation is to take place, and also shows that the beginning of development into the future has been made. What has been prepared during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions as wisdom acts in the physical, ether, and astral body of man; there it shows itself as “cosmic wisdom”; in the “ego,” however, it becomes “inner wisdom.” From the Earth stage onward, “wisdom of the external world” becomes inner wisdom of man. Intensified in the inner life, it becomes the seed of love. Wisdom is the pre-condition of love; love is the result of wisdom reborn in the ego.
Whoever could be misled by the preceding expositions into believing that the described evolution bears a fatalistic stamp, would have misunderstood them. Whoever were to believe that in such an evolution a certain number of men would be condemned to belong to the kingdom of “evil humanity,” fails to perceive how the mutual relationship between outer world and the world of soul and spirit takes shape in this evolution. Both outer world and the world of soul and spirit form, within certain limits, separate evolutionary streams. Through the forces inherent in the sensory stream there arise the forms of the “evil human kingdom.” The necessity for a human soul to incarnate in such a form will only occur if this soul itself has created the conditions for it. The case might also arise that the forms originating from the forces of the sensory could not find human souls originating in the previous age, for these souls might be too good for that type of body. These forms would then have to be ensouled from the cosmos by something quite different from former human souls. Human souls will incarnate in the forms characterized only when they have made themselves ready for such an incarnation. Supersensible cognition is bound to state what it perceives concerning this sphere, namely, that in the future indicated there will exist two human kingdoms, one good and one evil, but it does not abstractly deduce from the present state of human souls a future state appearing as though with the force of self-evident necessity. Evolution of human forms and evolution of soul-destinies must be sought by supersensible cognition on two quite separate paths; any attempt to mix the two in the conception of the world would be a remnant of a materialistic attitude that, if present, would project itself dangerously into the science of the supersensible.