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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Awareness - Life - Form
GA 89

Planetary Evolution IV

25 October 1904, Berlin

Since all evolution follows three principles—conscious awareness, life and form—and every entity must go through these three principles many times, we need to know exactly what levels of awareness, life or form we may be speaking of. Something can be known about seven of them. The seven levels of conscious awareness are:

  1. The ‘trance’ state of the mind, also known as ‘deep trance’
  2. Dreamless sleep
  3. Dream-filled sleep
  4. The waking state, or awareness of objects
  5. The psychic state, or life in image awareness
  6. The hyperpsychic state, or life in conscious awareness
  7. The spiritual state = self-aware all-embracing awareness

The trance state is characteristically universal. It is the most comprehensive awareness as far as the range is concerned, but it is limited by dimness. It is the dimmest state of awareness. An entity living on our Earth which is put into this trance state would perceive the movements of the planets, mineral forms, crystalline forms, etc. Plant, animal and human life would not exist for this spirit. If this trance state is induced, the entity is in a position to see such things in the cosmos, but not the life of physical life forms. If a trance is entered into pathologically, the individuals concerned start to describe cosmic chains, and so on; sometimes this is in a confused way, but sometimes they will produce some very strange things that are very similar to the theosophical teachings. It is a wide-ranging universal awareness, but too dim to perceive actually living, sentient life forms.

The second state is the one we call 'dreamless sleep'. The way in which human beings go through their sleep state is generally still so dim that most of them feel that they are unconscious in it. It is less dim than the first state, but narrower. People who go through it consciously perceive what happens in the mineral and plant worlds, but the animal world, and so on, the world of inner responses and thoughts, does not exist for them. Sleepwalkers of this degree produce extraordinary drawings of arabesques in this state, but are not able to draft cosmic systems.

The third state is that of dream-filled sleep, which is familiar to us. We usually know nothing of any connection between our dreams and what is going on in the cosmos. The state is not all-encompassing but reflects the inorganic world and mineral, plant and animal nature. To someone who has not developed further, reflections of his own passions, his animal nature, will often appear in such dreams.

In the fourth state, the waking state, which is the narrowest but also the clearest, we perceive the mineral world, plants, animals and humans, but only in their outer form; not the law, not the inner response. This is something people must construct for themselves in the waking state, going by the outer gesture.

In the more enhanced states of awareness the bright clarity of physical awareness is retained. The fifth state, psychic awareness, extends through the astral world where feelings are directly perceived. Thus you will not just see someone’s sour face but directly perceive his feelings. The sixth state is the hyperpsychic state of awareness. Here human beings perceive all kama, and in addition also all that lives. They see the principle of growth and of life itself. The seventh state is spiritual awareness. In this, human beings perceive everything that happens in the cosmos in bright, clear conscious awareness.

We then also have the seven stages in the evolution of life. They are:

  1. The first elemental world
  2. The second elemental world
  3. The third elemental world
  4. The mineral world
  5. The plant world
  6. The animal world
  7. The human world

To characterize these stages in a way similar to the one used for the conscious mind above, we may say the following. The first elementary world is the most subjective. The second is less subjective. The third even less so. We are in fact able to distinguish three degrees of subjectivity in the three elemental worlds. Where it begins to be objective, that is, acts in such a way that it acts not only from the inside to the outside but is seen from outside, it becomes mineral world. In the case of the first elemental world, existence comes into its own in outer terms. In the case of the second elemental world, life comes into its own in outer terms. In the case of the third elemental world, sentience or awareness comes into its own in outer terms. In the case of the fourth state, which is the mineral world, existence has become objective (4th level of life). The plant world: life has become objective (5th level of life). The animal world: sentience and awareness have become objective (6th level of life). In the human world all three degrees become objective (7th level of life). Conscious awareness and the I have then entered wholly into objectivity.

Life thus evolves through the seven worlds. Form also goes through seven stages, as follows.

  1. The arupic form, which is form in its earliest potential, when it is not as yet actual form, but already has the urge to go outwards.
  2. The rupic form, which is the spiritual form, with a mere hint of an outer form.
  3. The astral form begins to be outwardly visible.
  4. The physical form.
  5. The plastic form, no longer rigid but making itself felt from the inside, with life pushing outwards, into form.
  6. The intellectual form, which has grown even more mobile, with the spirit pushing outwards.
  7. The archetypal, original form. This form is absolutely in control of itself, wholly mobile in itself. Everything pushes outwards; it can configure anything; it is active.

If we now want to consider the evolution of a particular entity, we have to be clear in our minds that it has to go through all the stages of conscious awareness, life and form, and that this happens in the following way.

Every entity must go through the seven stages of conscious awareness. Each stage of this state of consciousness in the various forms it takes is called a 'planetary system' in theosophical textbooks. An entity goes through a planetary system, which means that it metamorphoses through these seven states of awareness. The human being is now going through the stage of waking consciousness. This is known as the 'Earth state'. Before this he went through the state of dream consciousness. That was at the stage of lunar evolution. This is put in words as: The human being has completed the Moon stage in his evolution.

Human beings have to go through all realms of life in every state of conscious awareness. On the Moon they thus went through the first, second and third elemental worlds, and through the other four worlds in dream consciousness. On Earth they have to go through the seven stages of life. At present humans are on the planetary system of the Earth, which means in the waking state, in the middle life stage, and in the mineral world. In form, humans are now physical (fourth globe or fourth form state); in terms of life they are mineral (fourth round); in terms of conscious awareness, awake (fourth planetary system). A 'round' means the passage of an entity through one of the realms of life. Each planetary system has seven rounds. On Earth, human beings are in their fourth round. In this round, mineral evolution will be taken to its perfection, in the fifth round plant evolution, in the sixth animal evolution, the animal level of awareness, and in the seventh round human conscious awareness.

Every entity must go through all forms in each of these seven worlds, assuming every form. It will be arupic first, then rupic, astral, physical, plastic, intellectual and finally archetypal. These seven metamorphoses of form were called the seven 'globes' in the early days of developing theosophical teachings:

  • arupic metamorphosis the first globe,
  • rupic metamorphosis the second globe,
  • astral metamorphosis the third globe,
  • physical metamorphosis the fourth globe,
  • plastic metamorphosis the fifth globe,
  • intellectual metamorphosis the sixth globe,
  • archetypal metamorphosis the seventh globe.

These seven globes are not actually separate globes; the objective process is not such that one leaves one globe for another. Together they make up an orb in which these different form states are interpenetrating. This evolution of form states was called the 'phase states' in earlier esoteric terminology. Something is connected with this that may be described by taking the following line of thought.

Imagine an entity with physical eyes, and also that all those states are always present in the world. Whilst human beings are at their level, other entities are at different stages of evolution. In esoteric terms this is called: Here a higher form of space begins. This region is called the region of perviousness in esoteric language. Even in the astral world, two entities are able to interpenetrate. You need to develop an inner feeling for this region of perviousness, for the way our world is penetrated by another. Physically we see only part of the cosmos, a part of the whole. From this point of view a visible heavenly body is one that is in the fourth state of form, in the phase of physical form; with regard to life this is the mineral world.

Physical visibility arises gradually, from the arupic form downwards, and then gradually disappears again as we move towards the archetypal form. We therefore also call these form states 'phases'. The Earth went through the arupic, rupic and astral states before it became physically visible. After the physical it will still go through the plastic, intellectual and archetypal states.

On the physical plane, an occult relationship exists between these form phases and the phases of the Moon. The passage through the seven form phases from the arupic to the archetypal state is therefore called a ‘cosmic month’, though the term is not used in all esoteric languages. Passage through all states of conscious awareness is called a ‘cosmic year’. Between cosmic day (form cycle) and cosmic year (conscious awareness cycle) lies the cosmic month (life states). It is longer than a cosmic month and shorter than a cosmic year.

In esoteric terms conscious awareness is ‘the Sun’, form ‘the Moon’, life for us now ‘the Earth’. A state of conscious awareness takes longest, a life state takes less long, and a form state is the least long. Every life state must go through all seven form states. From arupa to archetypal state it goes, first of all in the first elemental world, then in the second and third elemental worlds, and so on. It thus goes through seven times seven consecutive metamorphoses of life—those are the seven rounds, each of which goes through seven metamorphoses. Seven times seven metamorphoses or 49 which every entity has to go through: 49 on Earth, 49 on the Moon, thus 49 each on seven planetary systems, i.e. 7 times 49 = 343 (the sum of digits = 10). These 343 states make up a cosmic year.59See lecture given in Domach on 20 November 1914, in Balance in the World and Man, GA 158, tr. D. Osmond; N. Vancouver: Steiner Book Centre 1977.

We are now in the fourth planetary system (fourth state of conscious awareness, waking consciousness). We are on the Earth, going through the fourth sphere of life, the fourth round, the mineral world. The mineral world has reached the fourth globe, that is, the fourth form phase, which is the physical phase. It will reach perfection in this round, which also means that the human physical body in its mineral aspects will reach perfection in this round. On completion of all 343 states the human being will be what we call a ‘god’. This is not the supreme god but 'the third Logos', which is in truth the Logos of form when it will have gone through the 343 metamorphoses. It is form at its most advanced stage. These different configurations of conscious awareness are form again on the higher plane. Conceived as a whole, these 343 forms are thus the third Logos. The second Logos will represent life at its highest stage, and the first logos, conscious awareness at its highest stage. The stages of form are represented in colours and signs for esoteric students, the stages of life in sounds, life sounding forth. No characterizing signs exist in the physical world for the stages of conscious awareness.