The Michael Mystery
IX. World-Thoughts in Michael, and World-Thoughts in Ahriman
In contemplating the relation between Michael and Ahriman, one is unavoidably led to the question: what position do these two spiritual powers occupy towards one another in the whole cosmic interrelation, inasmuch as both of them are engaged in the evolution of the intellectual forces?
Michael exercised the power of the intellect throughout the Cosmos in past times. He did so then as servant of the divine spiritual Powers, to whom he himself, as well as Man, owes his origin. And this original relation to the intellectual force it is his will to maintain. When this intellectual force became detached from the divine spiritual powers, to find its way into the mind of the human being, Michael determined forthwith to place himself in a right position towards mankind, so as to establish in Man his own relation with the intellectual force. He purposed however to do this all, as before, solely in accordance with the designs of the divine spiritual powers, and to continue to act as the servant of these powers, with whom he, like Man, is united from his origin. It is his purpose, therefore, that in future the intellectual stream should flow through the hearts of men, yet still as the same force which it was when first it flowed forth from the divine spiritual powers in the beginning.
With Ahriman it is very different. This being has long since detached himself from the evolutionary stream to which those divine spiritual powers belong, of whom we are speaking. Already, in a remote past, he had set himself up beside them as an independent cosmic power. And now, at the present time, he stands spatially in the same world to which Man belongs, but enters into no combination of forces with the beings who belong by rights to this world. Only, when the intellectual force becomes detached from the divine spiritual beings and passes over to the world of Man, Ahriman finds such an affinity to this intellectual force, that he is able, through it, to unite himself after his own fashion with mankind. For what Man receives at the present time as a gift from the Cosmos, Ahriman united with himself long ago, in remote ages. Ahriman, were he to succeed in his intentions, would make the intellect that mankind has received similar to his own.
Now Ahriman acquired possession of the intellectual force at a time when he could not convert it into inward life. It remained in his being as a force that has nothing to do with the heart and soul. A chill and frosty, soulless cosmic impulse is the intellectual power as it streams from Ahriman. And the men who are overtaken by this impulse evolve chains of reasoning in which, in merciless and heartless fashion, the logic seems to speak for itself — in reality it is Ahriman, who is speaking through it — and which show no sign of any real, inward connection of the man's heart and soul with what he is thinking and saying and doing.
Michael has never appropriated the power of intellect to himself. He administers it as a divine spiritual force, feeling himself in union with the divine spiritual powers. And this intellectual force, when Michael wields it, shows itself to be as well capable of being made an expression of the heart and soul, as of the head and mind. For Michael bears within him all the first forces of the Gods of his origin and men's. And therefore nothing of chill frost nor soullessness is by him conveyed into the reasonings of the intellect; but he upholds these reasonings with heart-felt earnestness and warmth of soul.
And herein too lies the reason why Michael's face and bearing are grave, as he journeys through the Cosmos. To be thus bound up in the inner life with the Intelligence that is the world's substance, means at the same time fulfilling the condition, that one introduce into this Intelligent substance nothing of arbitrary volition, of subjective aims or desires. Else, logical reasoning becomes the arbitrary choice of a single person — instead of being the expression of the Cosmos. Strictly to keep his own being an expression of world-being — whatever of private self may stir within, to keep it within — this Michael regards as his more especial virtue. His mind is bent upon the great cosmic relations; this speaks in his countenance. His will shall go forth to men as a reflection of that which he discerns in the Cosmos; this speaks in his bearing, his gestures. Michael is in all things grave. For gravity in the face of any being is the reflection of the Cosmos in this being; a smiling countenance is the expression of that which shines forth from the being itself into the world.
One of the Imaginations of Michael is as follows: He reigns through the course of Time, bearing the light of the Cosmos as living being of his being, fashioning the warmth of the Cosmos as revelation of his own being. He wends as one Being like a World — affirming himself inasmuch only as he affirms the World — as though from all stations of the universe guiding forces to the earth below.
And, in contrast, an Imagination of Ahriman: Ahriman, in his course, from time would wring Space. Around him is darkness, into which he projects the rays of his own light. The more he achieves his ends, the keener grows the frost about him. He moves like a world contracted into one single being — his own; affirming himself only by negating the world; he moves, as though he brought with him uncanny forces from the dark caverns of the earth.
When Man pursues freedom, but with no leaning towards egoism; when freedom is to him pure love for the action he seeks to perform — then it is possible for him to draw near to Michael. If he seeks freedom in order to afford scope for his egoism; if freedom be to him the pride of feeling that in the action he gives expression to himself, then he is in imminent danger of falling into Ahriman's domain.
The Imaginations above described shine forth from a man's love towards the action he performs; then it is Michael; or else, from self-love of his own person in the performance: then it is Ahriman.
When Man, as a free being, feels himself near to Michael, then he is on the way to convey the intellectual power into his ‘whole man.’ He thinks, it is true, with his head; but his heart feels the light or dark of the thinking. Will pours Man's inner being forth in light, when Thoughts flow through the Will with force of purpose. Man grows ever more Man, as he grows to be an expression of the World. He finds himself, not be seeking himself, but by uniting himself to the world with Will in Love.
When Man, in the enjoyment of his freedom, lets himself be seduced by Ahriman, he becomes caught up into the intellectual process as into a spiritual automatism, in which he is a bit of the machinery, no longer himself. All his thinking becomes an affair of the head; and the head severs the thinking from the life of his own individual heart and individual will, and altogether blots out his own individuality. In making himself an expression of his own separate self, the man becomes ever less and less the expression of his innermost, characteristically human, being. In seeking himself, he loses himself. He withdraws from the world from which he withholds his love. Man realizes himself in truth, only when he loves the world.
From the picture here drawn, it is plain to see how Michael is men's guide to the Christ. With all the gravity of his being, his bearing, his actions, Michael goes through the world in Love. He who follows Michael, cherishes Love in relations with the outer world. And Love must unfold itself first in relations with the outer world — else it turns to Self-Love.
But if there be this Love, as cherished in the Michael-mind, the ‘Love for Others’ will be reflected back into the personal Self. The Self will then love, without loving itself. And on the paths of such Love as this, Christ is to be found by the soul of Man. He who follows Michael, cherishes Love in relations with the outer world, and thereby finds that relation to the inner world of his own soul, which brings him together with Christ.
The age, now beginning to dawn, requires that men's eyes should be turned to a world which lies, as spiritual world, on the very borders of the seemingly physical one, and in which they may find things such as the Michael Being and the Michael Mission, here described. For that world, which Man paints to himself as a picture of the natural world, from the view he has of the seemingly physical one, is not even that world in which he is immediately living, but one that lies as far below the real world of Man, as the Michael-world lies above it. Only Man does not notice that unconsciously, when he sets out to paint his own world, it is really the picture of another which emerges. In the very painting of this picture, he has already begun to eliminate himself, and to fall into spiritual automatism. Man can only save his manhood, when, over against this picture — which he takes for a view of nature, and where he himself is lost — he sets that other one, which shows Michael as he rides on high, Michael leading the way to Christ.
Anything which is a working force in the world — as, for instance, the World-Thoughts — is not recognized in its true character and meaning for the world, if one looks only at the force per se, which is working. One must go further, and distinguish the Beings from whom the action of the force proceeds; with the World-Thoughts, for instance, whether it is Michael or Ahriman who brings them into the world and maintains them here.
The same thing which, proceeding from one Being, may work healthfully and re-creatively because of this particular Being's relation to the world, may have a baneful and destructive action, when it proceeds from a different Being. The World-Thoughts carry Man on towards the future when he receives them from Michael. They lead him away from the future of his own welfare when Ahriman can instill them into him.
by such reflections one is led more and more to get beyond the view of an indefinite spiritual existence, some pantheistic sea of causation at the base of all things, and to pass on to a view more definite and concrete, that rises to conceptions of the distinct spiritual Beings of the Higher Hierarchies. For, in truth, Reality consists everywhere in forms of living Being; whatever in Reality is not living Being, is action that takes place in the relations of Being to Being. And this action can only be understood when one has sight of the Beings who are acting.