Three Streams of Human Evolution
4 October 1918, Dornach
To-day and in the next few days I should like to draw from our recent studies some conclusions about human life itself. I will first mention certain thoughts which are brought against Anthroposophy from outside, and will then show how with regard to these ideas we should lay hold of and emphasise certain conceptions.
Now in the life of nature, in the natural order, everyone to-day recognises — in terms of the natural order, certainly — the same kind of thing that we want to establish through Spiritual Science for the spiritual life, the spiritual order. The anthroposophical outlook would be wrongly interpreted if it were to infuse modern Spiritual Science with any kind of old errors or mystical ideas, bordering on superstition. We must accustom ourselves to use such terms as Ahrimanic, Luciferic — now familiar to us — for the spiritual order, in the same way, though certainly on a higher level, that a natural scientist speaks of positive and negative electricity, positive and negative magnetism, and so on. In contradistinction to the prejudices of present-day natural science, however, we must be clear that directly we rise to consideration of the spiritual order of the world, those concepts which in natural science have a fixed and highly abstract content, must be grasped in a more concrete and spiritual sense.
Now we know that during the life between birth and death man has what we are accustomed to call his physical body; beyond this is the etheric body or — to use the more workable expression I am trying to introduce — the body of formative forces; then comes the astral body which has a conscious character, but not yet that of our present-day consciousness. What many people to-day call the subconscious appertains to the astral body. Then comes what is called our ordinary consciousness, which alternates between the states of sleeping and waking. In the sleeping state it is represented only by chaotic dreams. In the waking state, not content with perceptions only, it has recourse to abstract judgments and concepts.
All these aspects of consciousness belong to the part of man's being we call the “I,” or ego. At the present time it is only in this last member of the human organism, in the ego itself, that man can find his bearings. The ego is mirrored for him in his consciousness. It is in this ego that are really enacted all the thinking, feeling and willing of the soul. Everything else — astral body, etheric body, and the physical body in its true form — lies outside his consciousness and also outside the ego. For all that is stated about the physical body in ordinary science, in anatomy, physiology and so forth, refers only to its outer aspect — to as much of it as enters our consciousness in the same way as other external objects are perceived. What we consciously perceive is an external picture of the physical body, not the physical body itself.
Thus the three members of man's being which, in accordance with their evolution, we call pre-earthly — you know about this evolution from my Occult Science — these three members are outside the field of normal human consciousness. Now you know that with regard to the spiritual order we speak of Beings who, as members of the various Hierarchies, are ranged above man, just as below him are ranged the three kingdoms of nature — the animal, plant and mineral kingdoms. As soon as we consider man in a spiritual sense, we can no longer speak only of those contents of the astral, etheric and physical bodies of which ordinary science or even Anthroposophy speak when they are concerned only with human life in the sense-perceptible world. Therefore in our earlier studies this autumn I mentioned that if we look at these lower members of man's nature (let us call them that) as they truly are, we find that Spirits of the individual Hierarchies are essentially connected with them.
In the sense of my recent remarks on Goethe's world-conception, we may say: In so far as through these three members man develops himself in the course of time, in so far as he goes through the evolution open to him between birth and death, he is connected with certain spiritual forces which lie behind his evolution. I tried to make this clear to you by saying: If we look upon this as man's present-day being
(diagram), we have to think of it as connected from its evolutionary past with the spiritual Powers whom we have recognised as belonging to the higher Hierarchies. As you know, in a normal man these spiritual Powers, with the exception of the Spirits of Form, the Exusiai, do not work directly within the ego. Thus, except for the Spirits of Form, the Powers who endow man with his original form, the remaining spiritual Powers do not work into his present consciousness.
We can get some idea of the Spirits of Form — a very meagre idea but in some degree relevant — if we look at one aspect of the human bodily form which is acquired during the earliest period of physical life. We are all born as more or less crawling beings, with no power to stand vertically. Now a great deal in the whole being of man is connected with his upright posture, or rather with the force which makes this posture the true one for him. And when we consider the merely outward features which distinguish man from the animals, we should not look at the things usually seen, the bones, muscles, and so on, which in essentials are common to both man and animal; we should focus our attention on this force of uprightness which gives the growing human being his form. It is only part of the difference, but it is an essential part. This force of uprightness that intervenes in our physical development is of the same nature as all the forces that bestow on earthly man his form. It is only forces of this kind that penetrate into our ego.
But there are also the forces of cosmic movement, cosmic wisdom, cosmic will — Dynamis, Kyriotetes and Thrones, if we use their ancient names while approaching them in a modern spirit. These forces intervene in the unconscious parts of man's being — those therefore that appertain to his astral body, his body of formative forces or etheric body, and his physical body. And so, when these members of man's nature are observed without the spiritual content to which I have referred, we are concerned with mere illusions, mere phantoms. In truth, we are not to be found in our outward appearance; our real being is in the aforesaid spiritual forces.
Now — as I said recently in connection with Goethe's world-conception — there are forces which work upon man for a time, without being directly involved in his evolution. These two forces we call the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic, the Luciferic working more spiritually (see red in diagram), the Ahrimanic more in the subconscious (lilac in diagram).
Hence we have a threefold cosmic intervention in human life. We can say: In man's nature there are certain spiritual
forces connected directly with the course of his evolution. And there are two other kinds of forces, the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic, not directly connected with his evolution; they work upon him for a time and are thus an addition to his inherent constitution.
Let us now consider life. When we consider life, we do not see only the stream of forces that actually belongs to us; we always see something flowing together out of the three streams. Whatever we survey, the outer world of the senses, or the historical life of man taking its course between pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, action and inaction, we see it in such a way that the three streams are flowing into one another. In ordinary life we do not go in for what the chemist does when, instead of leaving water as the simple liquid it appears to be, he analyses it into hydrogen and oxygen. Spiritual science must undertake this analysis. Spiritual science must go in for spiritual chemistry; otherwise it will never be possible thoroughly to understand human life.
From various points of view we have described the special characteristics of the type of being we call Luciferic, and those of the type of being we call Ahrimanic. Our task now is to go into these things from yet another point of view, so as to relate them directly to human life. Where in man's life is the point at which Luciferic forces acquire particular influence, and where the point at which particular influence is acquired by the Ahrimanic forces?
Now if man could give himself up to the quiet development proper to his original being (you know from earlier studies that he would then be able to acquire self-knowledge only in the second half of life) he would not have been exposed to the periodic ingress of Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers. But in real life, as we have to live it, man is exposed to the periodic ingress of these powers — yes, he must indeed reckon with the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic. Now in all that belongs more to the sphere of the conscious in man, but in such a way that he does not strive after this consciousness through nature but by going beyond nature (we go beyond nature when, for example, we acquire self-knowledge during the first half of life) — in everything he strives for through consciousness there lies something we can describe only as super-consciousness. But for this element of super-consciousness, our consciousness would appear quite different. It is super-consciousness that enables man to introduce into historical life more than he could do if he had to depend solely on his physical development. At the present juncture in man's earthly evolution we should have a very different form of culture if this super-consciousness had not flowed in. With this super-consciousness, however, the possibility of ingress is quite definitely given to Luciferic powers.
We must recognise in the right way how these powers work into human consciousness. Without them, man would never be induced to develop a form of thinking different from that which I recently described to you as the ideal of the Goethean world-conception. With the aid of Luciferic powers, he forms hypotheses, builds imaginative pictures that transcend reality. He does not simply seize upon reality; with his consciousness he unites super-consciousness. He forms all manner of ideas about reality — ideas that enable him to come to closer grips with reality than he otherwise would do. And if we turn our gaze to the whole sphere of art, where the super-conscious plays so large a part, we must emphasise that if art is not to degenerate into mere naturalism, the highest possible degree of Luciferic activity must come in. It is no use saying — I have emphasised this again and again — that man should keep the Luciferic away from his life. If he could do so, he would be unable to lead a real life; he would have to become an arch-philistine. It is the Luciferic activity which like a leaven saves him over and over again — spurs him on to struggle out of Philistinism.
This Luciferic activity, however, is at the same time the cause of man's tendency to look at the world from the airy viewpoint of a bird, as it were. All that arises in the course of history as wonderful programmes, marvellously beautiful ideas, by which it is always believed that in some way or other a return can be made to the Golden Age — all this has its origin in the Luciferic tendencies which flow into man. Everything by which he tries to loosen his connection with reality, to soar above his actual circumstances — all this points to the Luciferic. So, too, does the impulse that is always tending to diminish the interest we take in our fellow-men. Were we to follow our original nature, in accordance with the evolutionary forces that truly belong to us, we should feel an interest in our fellow-men far beyond the usual measure. The Luciferic element in our nature produces a certain lack of interest in other people. And if we study the real being of man, we ought to lay great emphasis on the following point — that a great deal in the world would be different if we were to recognise in its reality this urge of ours towards an excessive interest in our own concoctions and a much too meagre interest in what other people think and feel and will. Knowledge of man in the right sense is acquired only if we permeate our approach with the question: What is it that impels me to lose interest in other people? It must be a future task of human culture to develop this knowledge of man. To-day, knowledge of man is often said to consist in what anyone may say about people in accordance with his own idea of what they are or what they should be. Taking people as they are and being quite clear that everyone is as he is, even the criminal — we must go as far as that — tells us more important things about the world than any personal fancies we may have about the being of man, however beautiful they may be. To say this to ourselves is to set up a counterpoise to the Luciferic element within us.
An endeavour to gain a knowledge of man in this way would reveal an endless amount. And a genuine interest in the real nature of man has never been further off than it is to-day. But what is meant here is not to be confused with a lack of critical attitude towards human beings. Anyone who starts out with the idea that all men must be looked upon as good and have to be given equal affection is dealing with the matter in a most comfortably Luciferic way, for all that is pure fantasy. This notion of regarding all men as equal is sheer Luciferic fantasy; the point is not to cherish a general idea but to penetrate to the actual character of every individual man and to develop for it a loving — or, perhaps better, an interested — undemanding.
Now you may ask: What is the object of the presence of this Luciferic force in us, if it prevents us from being tolerant towards human nature in a wise sense and from developing interest in it? What is this Luciferic force in us meant for? In the household of the spirit it is thoroughly justified. The Luciferic force has to be there because if we were only in the progressive stream of cosmic influence and were to develop a tendency to know each individual man in accordance with his nature and spirit, then we should be drowned in ail our knowledge about man. We should go under and never be able to find ourselves properly. A fact connected with many of the secrets of existence is that there is truly nothing in life which, if carried to an extreme conclusion, does not turn into something bad or unfortunate. That which rightly draws us to other people, and enables us to find the other man in ourselves, would have the effect of drowning us in our knowledge of man if the Luciferic goad were not always there, ready again and again to save us from drowning, to raise us to the surface, bringing us back to ourselves and kindling interest in our own being. It is just in our human relations that we live in a continuous fluctuation between our own original force and the Luciferic force. And anyone who says: Would it not show more intelligence if man were to follow his own original force without being touched by the Luciferic force? — anyone who maintains this ought also to maintain that if he had scales with two pans he would prefer to dispense with one pan and weigh simply with the other. Life runs its course in states of balance, not in absolutely fixed conditions. This is what can first of all be said of the Luciferic grip upon human life. It lays hold of human consciousness, but in such a way that super-consciousness intermingles with consciousness.
The Ahrimanic element, on the other hand, exerts its influence chiefly in the subconscious. In all the subconscious impulses in man's nature, often subtle impulses, the Ahrimanic fortes mingle. If we want to characterise Ahriman and Lucifer we might say: Lucifer is a proud Spirit who likes to soar away into the heights where lofty visions open out. Ahriman is a morally lonely Spirit who does not readily make his presence known; he sets his nature to work in man's subconscious, works upon man's subconscious, conjures judgments out of it. People then believe that they judge out of their own consciousness, whereas they often derive an opinion from subconscious instincts, out of subtle subconscious impulses, or they even allow it to be conjured forth by the Ahrimanic forces themselves.
Religious descriptions have, as we know, often sprung from old conceptions which have now been taken over by Spiritual Science. And Peter was not far wrong in calling Ahriman a “prowling lion seeking whom he might devour.” For Ahriman really does prowl in the hidden parts of man's nature, in his subconscious; he strives to reach his earthly goal by diverting man's subconscious force to himself, so as spiritually to attain different ends in world-evolution from those lying in the direct human stream.
Where historical life is concerned it is always Luciferic forces that lead us to hatch out far-reaching world-dreams which fail to reckon with the nature of man. In the course of human thought what a vast number of ideas have been devised for making the world happy! And in the firm opinion of those who devise them, the world can become happy only through these particular ideas. This is because such Luciferic thinking is of an airy kind, soaring aloft and taking no account of all that is swarming around below, and believing that the world can be organised on the lines of these airy notions. Such ideas of how to make the world happy, resting always upon a defective knowledge of man, are of a Luciferic nature; dreams of world power derived from particular realms of human activity are of an Ahrimanic kind. For these dreams are developed out of the subconscious. It is Ahrimanic to take a certain realm of human activity and to wish to bring the whole world under its aegis. All that is connected with man's lust for ruling over his fellows, all that is in opposition to healthy social impulses, is of an Ahrimanic nature. The man of whom it could be said — not in a superstitious way but in our own sense — that he is possessed by Lucifer, loses interest in his fellow-men. The man possessed by Ahriman would like to have as many men as possible in his power and then to proceed — if he is clever — to make use of human frailty in order to rule over men. It is Ahrimanic to seek in the sub-earthly, in the subconscious, for human weaknesses as a means of ruling men.
Now we must ask: Where does all this come from? That above all is the question which must interest us: Where does it all come from? We have to ask: Of what nature are such forces as the Ahrimanic and Luciferic in their true being? Now we know that our Earth is — to use a Goethean expression — a metamorphosis of previous cosmic world-bodies, the fourth metamorphosis. And in order to have names for them, we have said: The Earth was first incorporated as Saturn, then as Sun, then as Moon, and is now incorporated as Earth. 1Op. cit. Chapter IV of Occult Science — an Outline. Thus we know that this Earth is the fourth incorporation of its cosmic being, the fourth metamorphosis; and it will go through further metamorphoses. We must take this into consideration if we now go on to ask: In the whole cosmic framework which embraces man, what significance have the forces of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Beings? We know that with the formation assumed by that part of the cosmos most nearly concerning us — our Earth — the Spirits of Form are connected. And if we examine a particularly characteristic feature of this Earth-formation, we find it — as I said before — to be identical, though only in a limited respect, with the way in which we overcome gravity through our own power of standing upright. These Spirits of Form are in a certain sense the ruling forces in earthly existence — that is, in the present metamorphosis of our planet. As we know, however, these Spirits of Form work through other Spirits whom we call Archai, Archangeloi, Angeloi, using old names in a modern connotation.
Now, with regard to these Beings, we are interested above all in the Archai, the Primal Forces, Primal Beginnings. We know that in the ranks of spiritual Beings, the Spirits of Form come immediately above the Archai. Hence we find that in the course of man's original evolution the forces of the Archai are to a certain extent in the service of the Spirits of Form. Into the being of man there work Archai and Exusiai — the Spirits we also call Primal Forces and those we call Spirits of Form. Besides this, however, there are also certain Spirits of Form who are disguised as Archai. They can be Exusiai, but they act only as Archai; they take on that rôle. This is an essential fact we discover — how spiritual Beings can take on a certain rôle which differs from the actual stage of their own evolution.
This has a quite definite consequence. Earthly form can be just as dependent on those Primal Forces who are really Spirits of Form, as it is upon the ordinary Spirits of Form. But the important thing is that everything in our earthly existence which is connected with space through taking shape in space is shaped out of the non-spatial. We comprehend the spatial only if we trace it back in its picture-nature to primal pictures that are outside space. Naturally, one of the difficulties for Western thinking is to form a conception of the spaceless. Yet it is true that everything connected with our primeval manhood, everything proceeding from the Spirits of Form, when it takes shape in space, is an effect of the spaceless. To speak concretely, when as individual human beings, who first crawl on all-fours, we learn to stand upright and thus overcome gravity in our upright posture, we place ourselves into space. But the force that is fundamentally responsible for this makes its way into space out of the spaceless.
If therefore as men we were subject only to the Spirits of Form proper to us, we should in every way place ourselves into space, bring the spaceless to realisation in space, for the Spirits of Form do not live in space. Anyone who seeks the Divine in space will not find it ... that goes without saying. Anything which arises as form in space is a realisation of the spaceless.
Those Beings who are Spirits of Form but act as Archai, as Primal Forces, should really, according to their essential nature, belong to the spaceless. But they enter space, they work in space. And this is characteristic of the Ahrimanic — that spiritual Beings who in their true nature are intended to be spaceless have preferred to work in space. This enables forms to arise in space that do not ray in directly out of the spaceless. Thus the spatial is portrayed in the spatial, so that one spatial form reflects another.
Perhaps I may take a concrete case. We men are all different from one another because we are placed here out of the spaceless. Our archetypes are in the spaceless. Everything is different from everything else. You have heard the famous story of how, at the instigation of Leibniz, certain princesses — for sometimes princesses have nothing better to do — searched the garden for two leaves absolutely alike and did not find them, for there are no two identical leaves. We also are forms created out of the spaceless, in so far as we do not resemble each other. But from another aspect we are alike — especially when we are blood relations. We resemble one another because there are spiritual Beings who form the spatial according to the spatial, not merely the spatial according to the spaceless. We resemble each other because we are permeated by Ahrimanic forces. This must be recognised, or we shall merely inveigh against Ahrimanic and Luciferic forces without any wish to understand them.
This example illustrates very clearly how Ahriman plays into our life. In so far as you can venture to say to yourself, “According to my form I am individual man, different from any other,” you are in the direct line of evolution. And were this the only fact valid in the world, and if there were no Ahrimanic side-streams to it, a mother would not be able to rejoice that her little daughter resembles her so wonderfully, for it would strike her that each individual human being is a spatial image of something outside space, that nothing spatial is a replica of anything in space. The entry into space of certain Spirits of Form gives the Ahrimanic its opportunity. Naturally this Ahrimanic element is not confined to similarity among human beings — it extends to many other things; we have simply taken one example of it.
Now I will ask you to call to mind what I added — not for your comfort but as arising out of our subject — after having told you that man really becomes apt for self-knowledge only in the second half of life. I said: In so far as our life takes this course in time, and if nothing else worked upon us, we could, in fact, arrive at self-knowledge only in the second half of life. But — so I said at the time — in the first half of life Luciferic forces work on us and produce a self-knowledge that is not the result of our own original human nature. In contrast to human life as it would be if it followed its original pattern, I set what I have called the realm of duration. In regard to everything that belongs to our original human nature we are different persons at fifty from what we were at twenty; we develop. In regard to everything in us that we do not develop, we belong not to our bodily nature but to the realm of soul and spirit and are connected with the realm of duration, with that realm in which time plays no part. Just as the spaceless lies at the basis of everything spatial, so at the basis of everything temporal there is duration.
We should be quite different human beings if we were not connected with the realm of duration. As I said a short while ago, we should wake out of a certain life of dreams only at twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old. We live, however, in the realm of duration, and this gives balance to our dozing through the first half of life and the terrible intellectual brightness of the second half.
Now to this realm of duration belong, as we know, all the spiritual Beings of the higher Hierarchies, with the single exception of the Spirits of Form. They play into the kingdom of evolution in time. But because they live both spatially and spacelessly, because they pass their life between space and the spaceless, they call spatial forms into existence out of the spaceless. This admits of a time-process; their life plays into time. The other Beings, however, of a higher rank than the Spirits of Form among the Hierarchies, belong entirely to duration. It is only by way of comparison that they can be spoken of as Beings of time; if this is meant to correspond to reality, it is nonsense. It is most difficult to talk about these things for the simple reason that, at the present stage of evolution, so very few men have any lively sense of concepts and ideas developed outside space and outside time. Most people would explain away the spaceless as sheer fantasy; and it is the same with the timeless, the enduring, the imperishable, and even the immutable.
Beings above the rank of the Exusiai, accordingly, belong only to the realm of duration. But there are those among them who take on the role of Beings in time, who enter time. Just as those other Beings, the Ahrimanic Beings I have described, enter space, so there are Beings who enter time. These are Luciferic Beings, who really belong to the ranks of Spirits of Wisdom, but because they work in time they do so in the character of Spirits of Form. And that which would otherwise work timelessly in man's soul during life is brought into time by these Spirits. Hence it comes about that certain things which could always be in existence for us were we allowed to take our course according only to the realm of duration, succumb to time. For instance, we may forget them, or remember them either more or less well, and so on, and this remembrance depends only upon our bodily-soul nature, not upon our soul-spiritual nature.
Spirits of Duration, therefore, who act as Spirits of Time — they are Luciferic powers; in the cosmic order they are really of a much higher rank than those Powers of whom many clergymen, however highly educated in theology they may think themselves, speak when they talk of the divine. ... In reality they are referring to much less exalted Powers, as I have indeed said before.
These Luciferic Beings are able to transfer into time what would otherwise appear to our human perception as purely spiritual and timeless — they give it the semblance of running its course in time. And this temporal semblance, imparted to certain phenomena in ourselves, is the sole reason why people maintain that their spiritual activity has a material origin. Were we not permeated in our souls by Luciferic Beings, our spiritual activity would appear to us as coming directly from the spiritual. We should never imagine that spiritual activity could depend on the material. We should see that the image I often use is the only right one — that whoever believes his spiritual activity arises from the material is like a man who goes up to a mirror and thinks that the reflection arises from a being behind it. Certainly the image depends upon how the mirror is constructed, and so is our thinking dependent upon our bodily nature. The body, however, does nothing more than the mirror does; if the Luciferic semblance were absent, the mirror would directly reveal to human perception that spiritual activity is merely given its form by the material. In so far as Lucifer is implicated in our super-consciousness, he calls forth the semblance that leads us by the nose in the same way as if we were to go up to a mirror and break it in order to find out how whoever was behind it had managed to get a hold there.
This illusion that the spiritual can originate in the material is essentially Luciferic. And anyone who maintains that the spiritual is a product of the material is in fact declaring — though he may not say so — that Lucifer is his God. The assertion that the spiritual comes forth from the material, which is exactly the same as saying that a mirror produces a reflection, as if there were beings behind the mirror ... this assertion that the material produces the spiritual, the spiritual in man, is identical with declaring, even if not in words: Lucifer is God.
Now we can also seek knowledge about the opposite pole. A Luciferic misrepresentation is that the mirror, the material, drives out the spiritual from itself. The opposite pole is this — the illusion also exists among men that the content of the physical world of the senses has power to work upon the inner being of man. If the Ahrimanic illusion, which arises through forces entering space out of the spaceless were not present, man would perceive how no influence could ever be exercised upon his inner being by forces anchored in the material. The assertion that in the material there are forces, energies, which are able to work on further in man, is an entirely Ahrimanic assertion; whoever makes it, even without words, is declaring Ahriman to be his God.
Nevertheless man sways between these two illusions. First, the illusion that repeatedly deceives him — that the mirror itself produces pictures of real beings, as if the material were able to bring forth spiritual activities. And the other illusion — that in the external existence of the senses energies are contained which are somehow transformed so as to bring about human activities. The first is the Luciferic illusion; the other, the Ahrimanic.
What is so characteristic of our present time is that it has no inclination to go into the spiritual in the same way that it goes into the natural order. It is certainly easier to speak about the spirit from the standpoint of a nebulous mysticism, or in terms of abstract ideas, than to enter concretely into spiritual processes and spiritual impulses in a truly scientific way, as is done in the case of nature itself.
We live now in an age when man must consciously begin to make clear to himself what is working in his soul. We know why the time is past when man could draw from an unconscious source the impulses he needed to guide him further. To-day he must begin consciously to enter the realm in which lives his soul-nature, and this soul-nature is generated by consciousness.
Thus we are able to say that if man were to follow in his evolution only his original nature and the good spiritual forces in the world, he would be a very different being from what he now is, when he pursues this age-old development in conjunction with the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic forces working upon him in time.
The question now is this: How is a balance set up between these three forces? In order to set up this balance, or at least to recognise how it can be done, we must look at the following.
External natural science is quite content to judge in certain realms according to this principle: a knife has to do with eating, so one goes to the razor-case for a razor and cuts up the food. That is how many judgments in natural science are formed nowadays — for example, about death. Modern natural science does not go much further with its ready-made ideas about the phenomenon of death than to call it the cessation of an organism. That is easy, for then — as is done in a grotesque way to-day by many so-called scientists — we can speak of plant death, animal death, human death, all in the same sense. That, however, is really no different from speaking of a knife and putting a table-knife and a razor in the same category. In truth, what can be called death is different in plants, different in the animal, different in the case of human beings. But because in all three a cessation of organic functions is seen, people generalise.
When we study human death — and we have very often talked of it — then we find that it can be looked upon in a certain sense as the counterpoise for the Luciferic forces. Death, as you know, is not just a once-only phenomenon, for a man actually begins to die the moment he is born. The impulses of death are already laid in him and death itself comes about at a certain point of time. Everything in the way of impulses leading to death is at the same time a force which sets up a counterpoise to the Luciferic forces. For through death man is led out beyond the temporal into the realm of duration.
Now we know that the Luciferic forces really belong by nature to the realm of duration, and that what they are meant to do in the realm of duration they carry into the temporal. This would not be balanced if death, which leads man out of the temporal into the realm of duration, were not introduced into the kingdom of the temporal. Death balances the Luciferic. The Luciferic force carries duration into time; death carries time out into duration. There we have it in abstract words — but in this abstraction there is a very great amount of the concrete.
And what have we had to say of Ahriman? He is responsible for similarity. I have given you a concrete case of human similarity which is connected with Ahriman. And here, too, a counterpoise must be set up. But strangely enough, similarity is often related to this counterpoise through one of those confused concepts that arise when one does not enter into the deeper connections. The counterpoise to human similarity is the force of heredity; we are not alike merely in the shaping of our outward form, but we bear inner forces of heredity within us. Through these forces we actually work against similarity of form. It is only a confused science that identifies similarity with heredity. We look like our parents, but at the same time in our inner man we have certain forces inherited from them which strive to recapture the original image of the human being. These inherited forces do actually fight against similarity. A more subtle observation of man's life can show us this, without any supersensible powers, but solely through external observation. Just try to ask the question of life in the right way; try to observe men who in some outward characteristic particularly resemble their parents, grandparents and so on; and then look at the inherited moral impulses. You will soon see that these inherited moral impulses are, as a rule, working against similarity of outward appearance.
If in the case of distinguished personalities mentioned in history you are impressed by how much their pictures make them look like their forefathers, you will always notice that their biographies bring out attributes of soul — and these are precisely the inherited attributes — which are opposed to those from which the similarities of form have come. This is essentially one of the mysteries of life. Forebears would understand their descendants far better, and parents their children, if they were able to look this fact in the face completely without prejudice. If, for example, a mother has a little son who is very much like her, she can be pleased; but when it comes to education it might be useful for her to say: “What will happen if my son develops those qualities which are like the qualities that make for quarrels between my husband and me?” These concrete impulses have a tremendous importance in life and should be noticed. To know of them will be particularly necessary for the task of education, for the evolution of human beings in the future. For it will not be possible in the future to derive our education from abstract principles; we shall have to educate on an empirical, concrete basis. And we do not discover these empirical, concrete bases if we have no power to read life. We must be able to read life; but for that we must learn its alphabet. As you know, there is much more to it than that, but the most necessary alphabet that will suffice for the immediate future is to know three letters — normal evolution, Ahrimanic evolution, Luciferic evolution. Just as no-one can read a book without knowing his ABC, so anyone who is ignorant of these three letters cannot read — they are simply the letters through which one learns how to read life. Only by our learning to read life will the Utopian spirit so widespread among men be overcome. And people will then have to embark on a study of those forces which play into life.
Now naturally someone may say: “You have been talking here about the original being of man, but it is nowhere to be found.” That goes without saying; but as an objection it is no different from this: “You have been telling me here of how in the flowing water of a river there is hydrogen and oxygen, but I see nothing of all that.” It is indeed necessary to go into these things, above all to have a correct concept of what form is. I have previously used a comparison which I should now like to repeat.
One can arrive at Coblenz, or some other place, even at Basle, and admire the Rhine, perhaps feeling impelled to say: “This Rhine, it flows on, we don't know for how long it has done so but certainly for centuries, perhaps for an incalculable time. How old this Rhine is!” — What part of it is actually old? The water you look at will be at a quite different place in a few days; it will be far away; so it is certainly not old, for a few days ago it was not yet there, but somewhere quite else. What you see there is definitely not old; you have no right to call it centuries old. And when you speak of the Rhine, you probably do not mean its bed, the channel where its waters flow. In reality you are speaking of something not present before you. When you speak of reality, you cannot indeed refer to what you have before your eyes, for that is a confluence of forces working through the world and is merely a state of equilibrium. In whatever direction you may look, there is merely a state of equilibrium. You have to work through to the realities. And only by working through to the realities is it possible to learn the alphabet of life.
To-morrow I shall be speaking of the connection of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic impulses with the Christ-Jahve impulse, so that you may see how, in reality, the Christ-Jahve impulse flows into these streams.