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The Spiritual Hierarchies
GA 110

Lecture X

18 April 1909 Evening, Düsseldorf

Apart from the question raised at the end of the last lecture, there would be much to add to our present theme, but it is impossible in ten lectures to exhaust a consideration of the universe. Would you, therefore, allow me, before I deal with our main question, to make a few observations that seem relevant.

The first observation is not easy for modern consciousness to grasp, yet one should know about the existence of such things. It relates to the question of how planetary bodies, once they have appeared, disappear again. We have seen the spiritual trend of evolution. Beings evolve to higher stages and as they ascend they have to depart from their previous places of activity, that is, they must leave their former dwelling, which enabled them for a time to develop certain faculties they would not otherwise have been able to acquire. When, in the course of evolution, the Lemurian period was reached, man had become sufficiently mature to recapitulate everything that he had acquired through the evolutions of Saturn, Sun and Moon. Then he made his appearance in the habitat of our earth evolution, which had just been made ready for his further development. He developed through Lemuria and Atlantis into our own period, and striding from incarnation to incarnation he will develop further in the future. But the time will come when he will have to leave the earth because it will not have anything further to give him; it will not be able to offer him further possibilities of development.

You may imagine that, as a result, our earth might become a kind of wreckage heap; you might compare it with a town that has been deserted by its inhabitants. You know what such a town looks like after awhile, and gradually it turns into a mound of earth. Ancient towns taken over by the forces of nature give us a graphic picture of the process.

But it will not be so for the future of the earth. Now the following question will help us to gain a true picture of the future. What is the significance of Leonardo da Vinci, of Raphael, or some of the other great geniuses in this or that realm, for the evolution of the earth? What does it mean for earth evolution that Raphael or Michelangelo produced wonderful works of art that are still enjoyed by hundreds and thousands to this very day? Some of you may have felt a certain sadness when seeing Leonardo's Last Supper in Milan and you may have wondered how much longer this magnificent work will last. We should remember that Goethe, on his first Italian journey, still beheld the work in its full glory, which is, alas, no longer possible today. Since Goethe's time, the painting has deteriorated so much as a result of external circumstances that it calls forth feelings of sadness in us. But for people who will live as long after us as we live after Goethe, the work will no longer be in existence. Sooner or later the same is true of everything that man has created on earth and embodied physically in matter. Fundamentally, it is so for the earth itself. Yes, even for the thoughts created by man. Imagine a period when men will rise spiritualized into higher regions. Thoughts, in the present sense of the word—I am not referring particularly to scientific thoughts for they will in any case have lost their significance in the next three to four hundred years, but thoughts in general as we use them today, produced by the brain—they, of course, are of no importance for higher worlds and are of significance only for our life on earth. But man will have left the earth. What will happen to everything that man has created on earth in the course of his evolution?

From a spiritual aspect the evolution of the individuality is, of course, of importance. Through his achievement, Leonardo has risen higher; that marks his ascent. But we are grappling with the question of what the significance is for the future of the earth of the powerful ideas and the mighty impulses that great men have imprinted upon the substance of the earth. Will the future reduce the earth to dust, and will everything that man has made out of the earth disappear when the earth planet no longer exists? You admire Cologne Cathedral. We can be certain that in a relatively short period of time nothing of it will remain, but does this mean it is of no significance for the earth as a whole that a man embodied the idea of Cologne Cathedral in stone? We are not considering now what the human being takes with him from the earth; we are looking at the earth itself. In the course of its development a planet becomes ever smaller, it contracts. That is the destiny of the material part of a planet, but that is not all. It is only the part, so to speak, that can be observed by means of physical eyes and instruments. There is also an evolution of matter that proceeds beyond this.

We come to the point that is difficult for our contemporaries to understand. It may even be quite incomprehensible to them. The earth is constantly contracting. Matter is being pressed from all sides into the center. Now, on the one hand there is—I say this quite deliberately—a law of the conservation of force, but there is also a strange fact known to every occultist, which is that as matter is being pressed evermore to the center it disappears in the center.

Imagine a piece of matter that is being pressed more and more into the center where it disappears. It is not being pushed through the other side; it disappears at the center into nothingness! So a time will also come when the material part of the earth will disappear at the center. But that is not all. As much as disappears into the center, so much reappears at the periphery. It comes back from outside. Matter is disappearing at one point in space, and it is appearing again from the circumference. Everything that disappears at the center enters again via the periphery. It is drawn in, but in such a way that this substance is worked through by what the beings on the planet have done; it is impressed upon the material substance—not, of course, in its present-day form, but in one that will be provided by this process of transformation. So you would see the material particles of Cologne Cathedral disappearing at the center, and from the other side you would see it reappearing. Nothing, absolutely nothing of what has been accomplished on a planet is ever lost; it comes back from the other side.

That which came to us during the earliest phase of earth evolution before Saturn, had to be transferred outside, beyond the Zodiac. It was called in primeval wisdom the Crystal Heaven, and that is where the deeds of beings belonging to a previous evolution were deposited. They formed the basis on which new beings were able to become creative.

As said before, it is difficult to grasp these things with a contemporary understanding because one is accustomed to consider only the material aspect. We are not prone to think in terms of matter disappearing from three-dimensional space and re-appearing somewhere else after it has gone through another dimension. As long as you think in terms of three-dimensional space, it cannot be grasped. Because matter goes out of three-dimensional space, it becomes visible again only when it returns from the other side. In the intervening period it is in another dimension. We should endeavor to grapple with these things because many aspects of the origin of the world are connected with them. Something in one place may be related in a most complex way to something else in quite another place in three-dimensional space.

The origin of our planetary system began with ancient Saturn. Then came Jupiter. You will recall that during the creation of Jupiter the beings of the periphery were also actively involved. I( But just as the beings spread out over the planetary system evolve, so also do the beings who work from the periphery. When certain beings from the periphery begin to withdraw, we also find a drawing away on the part of beings dwelling outside in cosmic space. As Jupiter contracted, the beings who withdrew pressed together something that has nothing to do with our evolution; it was essentially related to the withdrawing beings. Thus, first Uranus was formed and later, during Mars evolution, Neptune arose. The names Uranus and Neptune were not appropriately chosen as had formerly been the case, though some meaning remains in the name Uranus. It was given at a time when an inkling of giving the right name still survived; everything beyond our own planetary system was given the collective name Uranus.

Thus we see that the two planets, which our modern astronomy sets on a par with the other planets, have in fact quite another origin and have fundamentally nothing to do with our universe. They represent worlds that came about because beings, who still had something to do with us during ancient Saturn, withdrew and took up their dwelling outside our world. Many other facts can be deduced from this, for instance, that these planets have retrograding moons, and so forth.

We have given a sketchy survey of our solar system and have raised the question of what man's true relationship to the beings of the Higher Hierarchies, who are in fact the ancestors of man, is. Let us begin with the loftiest, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, for in characterizing their nature we can best gain a true concept of man. What is the outstanding characteristic of these beings? They enjoy “the immediate sight of the Godhead,” as it is called. They are endowed from the beginning with what man has gradually to acquire in the course of his development. As human beings, we must take our starting point from where we are today in order to attain higher powers of cognition and of will. As a result we shall draw ever nearer to the Godhead, and the Godhead will come ever closer to us. That is the fundamental difference between the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones and man. From the beginning of their evolution the loftiest beings of the Spiritual Hierarchies were in the immediate presence of the Godhead, of the Divine Trinity, and they enjoyed from the first what man must develop. It is of extreme importance to know that these beings beheld God from the time of their origin, and that they continue to do so. They accomplish everything out of their gazing upon God, and God works through them. They could not do otherwise but act as they do for the sight of God is such a powerful force, has such an influence upon them, that with unerring certainty and immediate impulse they accomplish what the Godhead ordains. Anything resembling deliberation or judgment does not exist in the sphere of these beings; here there is only a beholding of the commands of the Godhead, which provides the immediate impulse to accomplish what must be done. They behold the Godhead in its true original form, as it really is. They consider themselves only as those who fulfill the will and wisdom of the divine. Thus it is for the highest hierarchy.

In descending to the next hierarchy, to the beings called Dominions, Mights and Powers, or Spirits of Wisdom, Movement and Form, we find that they do not have such an immediate view of the Godhead. They no longer behold God in his immediate form, they behold his manifestation, as he reveals himself, if I might put it so, through his countenance. For them it is unmistakably the Godhead, and they too have the immediate impulse to carry out the manifestations of the Godhead as was the case for the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The impulse is not quite so powerful but it is, nevertheless, still an immediate one. It would be impossible for the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones not to accomplish what they behold as ordained by the Godhead; that would be unthinkable because of their proximity to the Godhead. But it would be equally out of the question for the Dominions, Mights and Powers to undertake something that was not willed by the Godhead himself.

In order that the evolution of the world might progress, something quite extraordinary had to intervene. We are now broaching a subject that has always been difficult to understand, even for those advanced to a particular degree of Mystery wisdom. In the ancient Mysteries one attempted to make it comprehensible in the following manner. At a certain stage of initiation into the ancient Mysteries, the neophyte was led into the presence of hostile powers who had a cruel and horrible appearance and who performed the most dreadful deeds in the sight of the neophyte. But the performers were none other than masked priests, masked sages. In order to bring about the necessary temptations, priests had disguised themselves in ghastly demonic forms, as dreadful beings, performing the most terrible deeds that one could possibly imagine. But why was this done?

To show the neophyte how far development could err from the right path, the initiate, the priest himself, appeared in the guise of the evil-doer. The neophyte was given the illusion that evil stood there facing him, and only when the unmasking took place did he see the truth. The illusion was removed and only then did he know that he had endured a trial. In order to strengthen him and arm him against it, evil was enacted in its most hideous forms by priests who, of course, did not err. This was only a reflection of something that actually took place in cosmic development.

In the period between the Jupiter and Mars development, beings from the sphere of the Mights, to put it tritely, were detached; they were placed in the course of evolution so as to bring about obstacles instead of acting as progressive influences. We have come to know this as the War in Heaven. The deeds of these “adversely commanded" Mights (to coin a phrase) were thrown across the path of evolution, for the ruling cosmic powers of the Hierarchies said to themselves that, if the path were smooth, what has to arise would never take place. Mighty deeds are destined to take place!

Now suppose that you have to push a cart. You develop your strength in pushing it. If it were more heavily loaded, you would have to push harder but as a result you would also develop greater strength. Suppose that the Godhead had allowed evolution to take its course beyond Jupiter. Mankind would certainly have developed well. Humanity, however, could be made stronger by having obstacles put in its path. For the good of humanity certain Mights had to receive adverse orders. They were not evil to begin with; one need not regard them as such; one can even say that they sacrificed themselves in placing an obstacle in the course of evolution. These Mights can, therefore, be termed the Gods of Hindrance, of impediment in the widest sense of the word. From that moment onwards the possibility was created for everything that was to be achieved in the future. The detached Mights were not yet evil in themselves; on the contrary, by running up against the normal course of development, they were the great promoters of evolution. But they were, nevertheless, the originators of evil because, out of the storms they produced, evil gradually arose.

Naturally, the course of development of the “adversely commanded” Mights took quite a different turn from that of their brothers. They acted quite differently and as a result they became the tempters of the beings we call angels. During Moon development, the angels were passing through their human stage. These angel-men on the Moon witnessed the effect of the obstacles on the course of evolution. They said to themselves, "We could now overcome these hindrances, we could plunge in the stream of evolution of the Moon, but we prefer to abstain; we do not wish to dive down, we choose to remain above with the good Gods.,^ These angelic beings tore themselves away at a particular period of Moon evolution from the Mights who, down below, threw obstacles in the path of evolution. But there were other angel-men who said, “We will not follow our brothers because, if we did, evolution would be turned back and nothing new would come about.” The beings who said, “We wish to have nothing whatever to do with what is happening down there, we remain with the Mights,” withdrew from the Moon during the old Moon evolution and became followers of everything that took place in the Sun. They would have nothing to do with what happened on the forsaken Moon where the hindrances were. The others, however, who plunged down, had to take into their bodily nature, in fact, everything they had received on the Moon of the existing evolutionary obstacles. They had to harden themselves more than would otherwise have been the case. Their bodily sheaths became denser and they bore the mark of the deeds of the Mights. But we should keep well in mind that the deeds of the Mights were part of the divine cosmic plan. A further consequence was that when the Moon evolution passed over into that of the Earth, the whole process was repeated and the beings who plunged down into the powerful stream of the evolution of the Moon remained behind those who would have nothing to do with it. Still others remained even further behind; they were attracted by retrograde evolution.

The result was that advanced and retrograde angel-men appeared during earth evolution. The advanced angel-men now approached the human being during Lemuria when he became sufficiently mature to receive the seed of the human ego. They gave him the choice, as it were, of ascending then and there into the spiritual world, thus having nothing further to do with what had mingled with the course of world evolution since the Moon. The beings who had stayed behind, and whom we call Luciferic beings, approached the human astral body—they were unable to reach the “I”—and injected into the astral body the results of the War in Heaven. Mights, who had been ^adversely commanded” during the War in Heaven when they became Gods of Hindrance, now slipped the consequence of their deeds into the human astral body. But here they signified something else. They became the possibility of error and of evil. Man had now been given the possibility of error and evil, but at the same time he also received the capacity to rise above error and evil through his own strength.

Consider that such beings as the Mights belonging to the second hierarchy could not have had the power to become evil of their own free volition; they had to be “adversely commanded.” Only the beings of the third hierarchy, and those placed closest to man, the angels, were the first to be able to follow or not to follow the Powers of Hindrance. Those who did not succumb are represented in pictures depicting the victories fought out in the heavens. They express what came to pass during the Moon evolution when man had progressed to the stage of the incarnation of the astral body, that is, to the human-animal stage. Those angel beings who remained pure, as it were, tore themselves away from the course of the Moon development and escaped from what was taking place below on the Moon. This picture is represented in many different ways; originally we find it depicted in the fight between Michael and the Dragon. We also find it in illustrations of the Mithraic Bull, where it is expressed particularly clearly. But the object of such illustrations was not to point a finger and say that these angel beings had forsaken their duty; they were meant to depict an ideal for the future. uThese beings,n it was said, “preferred to ascend into spiritual worlds. You, on the other hand, descended and so have many other beings with you who follow the Powers of Hindrance. It is now up to you to transform what you have absorbed on the way down, and carry it upwards into the spiritual world. On the upward path you are called upon to become a Michael, a conqueror of the Bull." For symbols of this kind may be interpreted in two such quite different ways.

Thus we see that only because the Mights were given adverse orders did man receive the possibility of reaching his goal by means of his own powers, something that even the Seraphim cannot attain through their own endeavors. That is a crucial fact. The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones cannot do otherwise but follow the immediate impulses given them by the Godhead. The Dominions, the whole of the second hierarchy, must do likewise. Only among the ranks of the Mights was a number “adversely commanded”; they, too, could not do otherwise than follow the orders of the Godhead when they threw themselves, as it were, across the path of development. Even in what may be called the “Origin of Evil,” they merely performed the will of the Godhead that seeks to develop a powerful goodness through the detour of evil. Let us now descend to those beings called Powers; they, too, could not have become wicked of themselves, and the same applies to the Spirits of Personality and the Fire Spirits. For when the latter passed through their human stage on the Sun, the Mights had not yet been adversely commanded, and there was as yet no possibility whatever of becoming evil. The first to have this possibility were the angels, for it existed only from the Moon evolution onwards. The War in Heaven took place during the transition from the Sun to the Moon. A number of angels rejected this possibility, refused to be seduced, so to speak, by the powers destined to introduce obstacles; they remained true to their former nature. So that we have, down to the angels, and among some of the angels themselves, beings of the Higher Hierarchies unable to do anything but follow the divine Will. This is most important.

We now come to two categories of beings. First, those angels who plunged down into what the Mights had brought about during the War in Heaven. Beings who, on account of their later deeds are called Luciferic, approached the astral body of man during earth evolution so as to instill the possibility of evil into the human being, but also the possibility to develop himself out of his own free activity. So that in the whole sequence of the Hierarchies, we only find the possibility of freedom among a part of the angels and among men. The possibility of freedom begins among the ranks of the angels, yet it is only fully developed in man. When man came down to earth, he first had to fall prey to the mighty power of the Luciferic hosts. They permeated his astral body with their powers so that the “I” became enmeshed in this field of forces. Thus we find during the Lemurian and Atlantean periods, and subsequently also, the ego wrapped in a cloud, as it were, as a result of the assaults of Lucifer. Man was only saved from being overpowered by these forces because earlier beings overshadowed him, because angels and archangels who had remained above incarnated in chosen individualities and guided mankind. This continued up to the time when something remarkable took place, when a being who had formerly always been united with the existence of the Sun had progressed so far that he was able to penetrate not only the physical, etheric and astral bodies of man, as had previously been the case with higher beings, but that he permeated man as far as the ego.

You will recall that I described how in former times higher beings descended and ensouled the physical, etheric and astral bodies of man. Now, at a special moment in time, an individuality arose who had been chosen to receive the loftiest being into himself—a being who had been united with our Sun existence and who now worked inspiringly into the ego, right down into all the forces of the “I”!

The "I” expresses itself through the blood. Just as the material substance of the blood is the expression of the "I,” so the warmth or fire of the blood, which is the remnant of the Saturn fire, is the expression of the “I” in the elements. This being had to express itself physically in a twofold way. First in the fire. He proclaimed himself to Moses in the fire of the Burning Bush, and in the lightning on Sinai. He prepared his advent and then appeared in a blood-carrying body, in that of Jesus of Nazareth. Thus did this Sun-being enter into an earthly individuality. Because the human ego will be filled increasingly by the power that then entered into it, it will become evermore capable of overcoming through its own forces the influences able to pull it down. For the being who penetrated into the ego of man is of a different nature from those other beings who formerly descended to earth and ensouled the physical, etheric and astral bodies.

Let us take the ancient Holy Rishis. As we have seen, in their etheric body dwelt the spirit of a lofty being, for they had inherited the etheric body from great Atlantean forefathers in whom that exalted being had lived. It was passed on to them. They were unable to comprehend with their ego and astral body what streamed through the inspiration of their etheric body. This occurred in successive epochs; human beings were inspired. In moments of inspiration a mighty power took hold of them. In order to progress, the human being concerned was slightly withdrawn from the true destiny of humanity, which is to be abandoned to one's own resources. He was inspired by a more perfect being. This was the case with all founders of religions. They were ensouled by a being exalted above the War in Heaven so that they were not left entirely to themselves.

In the Christ, a Being of quite a different nature appeared; a Being who did absolutely nothing, who exerted not the slightest compulsion to bring people to Him. That is the essential point! If you consider the propagation of Christianity, you will find ample proof that during His lifetime Christ did nothing of what was later practised in spreading Christianity. Look at the founders of religion of ancient times. They are the great teachers of mankind; after a certain period of development they become guides of humanity and their teachings work on human beings with an overwhelming power. But now consider the Christ; does He actually work through His teachings? In fact, he who thinks that His main contribution lies in His teaching does not really understand Him. The Christ did not work in the first instance through His teaching but through what He did, and the greatest deed of the Christ was the deed that ended with His death. That is the essential point! Christ worked through a deed, and when this deed began to spread through the world He was no longer physically present. That is the fundamental difference between Christ and the other great founders of religions. This distinction is hardly understood today, but it is crucial. All the teachings of Christianity can be found in other religious systems. That cannot be denied. But has Christianity been effective through the contents of its teaching? Did the one who has contributed most, at least in the early stages, to the spreading of the essence of Christianity, did he rely on its teaching? Look at St. Paul! Was he transformed from a Saul to a Paul by what is written in the Gospels? He persecuted the followers of Christ Jesus until He who died on the Cross appeared to him out of the clouds, until Paul had his own personal occult experience of the fact that Christ lives. The effect of that death, the influence of that deed became the quickening impulse for Paul, and that is what matters.

Other religious systems work through their teachings, and the teachings are the same as those found in Christianity. But Christianity is not a question of teachings; what matters is the Deed that took place. The Deed is such that it does not act on any human being unless he has decided to let it do so out of his own inner forces, that means only if it is compatible with the absolute free nature of his own individual ego. It does not suffice for the Christ to be present in man's astral body; to be truly understood He should be present in the ego, and the ego must resolve freely to receive Him. That is the point. But when man's ego does unite itself with the Christ, he takes something real into himself, a divine power, not just a teaching. Therefore, it is beside the point to assert over and over again that the teachings of Christianity are to be found in other religions; the essential fact about Christianity is the Deed and this can only become a personal possession through ascent into higher worlds based on freedom. The Christ-power can only be received in freedom, and no one can receive it who does not do so voluntarily. But this in itself has only become possible because man has been called upon to develop his human stage on earth.

The fallen angels who have come over into Earth evolution as Luciferic beings are in quite a different position. They should actually have become men on the Moon. They remained behind in their development; they are therefore able to penetrate the astral body but not the ego. They are in a peculiar position that can best be described pictorially. Now, let this circle represent man's astral body during the Lemurian epoch (we are leaving aside the physical and etheric bodies); then this enclosed circle is the ego.

The “I” has gradually entered into the astral body. What happens next? During the Lemurian epoch the Luciferic forces slip from all sides into man's astral body and penetrate him with their activities, which in man express themselves as lower passions. What makes it possible for him to succumb to error and evil is embedded in the astral body; the Luciferic beings have injected it into him. If they had not done so, he would never have had the possibility of erring and of doing evil, he would have been lifted up to a region where, untouched by hindering influences, he would have received his ego. So it goes on, but the great leaders of humanity protected mankind as much as was necessary so that he should not sink too low.

Figure 1

Now comes the advent of the Christ. Let us take a human being who has voluntarily received the Christ—Christianity is only at its beginning, but let us take an ideal situation—a human ego has with complete free will allowed the Christ-power to flow into it. When the ego has progressed so far as to be permeated by the Christ, then the Christ power also irradiates the astral body. The Christ power rays out from within the astral body where previously the Luciferic beings had injected their influences. But now what will happen in the future? Because with the help of Christ, and with His help only, we can extinguish those qualities in man that stem from Lucifer, we gradually release the Luciferic powers too. A time will come when the Luciferic powers, which had to sink to a lower stage of evolution for the sake of man's freedom and therefore were unable to experience the Christ-power on earth, will experience the Christ-power through man and be redeemed. Man will redeem Lucifer if he receives the Christ-power in the appropriate way and, as a result, man will grow stronger than he would otherwise have been. For imagine, if man had not received the Luciferic forces, the Christ-power would have rayed out but would not have encountered any Luciferic obstacles. It would have been impossible for man to progress in goodness, truth and wisdom as far as he now can by having to overcome the powers of hindrance.

Thus man is a member of the Hierarchies yet quite distinct from them. He is quite different from the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, the Dominions, Mights, Powers, and also from the Spirits of Personality, from the Fire-spirits and from some of the angels. Looking into the future, he can say to himself, "I am called upon to seek the impulse for my actions in the deepest recesses of my own inner being—not by contemplating the Godhead, as the Seraphim do, for instance, but out of my own inner being." The Christ is a God who does not act in such a way that His impulses have necessarily to be followed; one follows Him out of understanding and only out of freedom. He is, therefore, the God who never seeks to hinder the free development in one or other direction. In the deepest sense of the word Christ could say, “You will know the Truth and the Truth will make you free.” The beings of the next hierarchy, the Luciferic beings who had the possibility of doing evil will be released again through the power of man.

World evolution does not merely repeat itself, and here we see how new factors enter into it. For a human stage as that experienced by man was not to be found previously among the Angels, Archangels or Primal Beginnings. Man has to fulfill a completely new mission in the world, the mission we have just characterized, and he descended into the earthly world in order to accomplish it. Christ came into the world as man's free helper; not as a God working from above, but as the first-born among many.

Only thus can we grasp the full dignity and importance of man among the Hierarchies. Looking up to the loftiness and glory of the Higher Hierarchies we may say to ourselves, uHowever mighty, wise and good they may be, and therefore are unable to err from the true path, yet it belongs to the lofty mission of man to bring freedom into the world, and together with freedom, what is called love." For there can be no love without freedom. A being who is forced to follow a particular impulse merely does so; for one who can do otherwise, there is but one power that makes him do so, and that is love. Freedom and love form a polarity, two poles that belong together. If love is to enter our cosmos, it can happen only through freedom, that is through Lucifer and He who conquers him, He who is at the same time the Redeemer of Man, the Christ. That is why the earth is the cosmos of love and freedom, and it is important that without wishing to tempt man away from humility, we should learn to familiarize ourselves with the sequence of the Hierarchies as it has always been known in the esotericism of the West.

Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, dwelling in the sight of the Godhead, follow immediate impulses. The Dominions, Mights and Powers are still so closely bound up with the higher powers that they have to receive adverse commands in order that evolution might progress as far as man. Even the archangels and the Spirits of Personality cannot err and are unable to sink into evil out of their own free resolve. The hierarchies immediately above man were called messengers and arch-messengers in order to indicate that they were not accomplishing their own tasks, but merely fulfilling orders received from above. But with man, a hierarchy is gradually developing that will carry out its own tasks. Through the evolutions of Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, man will gradually mature towards the accomplishment of his own impulses. Even if today this goal is still a distant one, man will in time attain it.

What are the Hierarchies? We begin with the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones. The Dominions exercise their rulership by carrying out the impulse received from the Gods. The Mights owe their strength to what is received from above, and the same is true of the Powers. Were they to become evil, they could only do so as a result of a decision of the divine world. We now come to the Spirits of Personality, to the arch-messengers and messengers, and so we descend to man. How should man be integrated into the ranks of the Hierarchies? After the archangels and angels, the arch-messengers and messengers, we shall have to place among the hierarchical ranks the Spirit of Freedom or the Spirit of Love. Counting from above downward, this is the tenth hierarchy, which, though still in a process of development, nevertheless belongs to the divine Hierarchies.

In the universe, we are not dealing with repetitions; each time that a cycle has been completed a new element is introduced into world evolution. It is always the task of the hierarchy that is at its human stage of development to provide that new element.

We have thus endeavored to fathom the significance of man by considering the meaning of our cosmos. Today, we have to some extent at least raised the spiritual question of the significance of man and we have attempted to provide an answer according to the teachings of the Mysteries by considering man as a center and to solve the riddle out of the periphery. In doing so, our knowledge enters the sphere of reality. Now this is the essential point, that true spiritual scientific knowledge provides a real and concrete insight, which means that by means of spiritual science we are given a picture of the cosmos and of the Spiritual Hierarchies.

We are at the center of our surrounding world. Everything around us loses its significance because we have to admit that the outer sense perceptible world cannot solve the riddles that beset us. Everything appears to be concentrated at a point. But the solution of the riddle of the cosmos comes to meet us in its full reality from the periphery; so is it in the case of matter, which is a reflection and symbol of the spirit. It gathers itself together, disappears at the center and reappears from the periphery. That is the true state of affairs. Our knowledge becomes real when we are able to behold this as the structure and process of the cosmos as a whole. It is no longer a form of speculation, a weaving of fanciful theory, for our knowledge is then born out of the cosmos. We should develop a certain feeling so that wisdom must become an ideal for us that is born out of the periphery of the cosmos capable of filling us with the strongest power—a strength to fulfill our destiny and to achieve the great cosmic ideal, and through this to realize the ideal of mankind that awaits us in the immediate future.