[Steiner e.Lib Icon]
Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Section Name Rudolf Steiner e.Lib

Cosmic Memory

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

Highlight Words

Cosmic Memory

On-line since: 31st March, 2008

On the Origin of the Earth

As INDIVIDUAL man has to pass through different stages after his birth, as he must ascend from infancy through childhood and so on to the age of the mature adult, so too must mankind as a whole go through a similar process. Humanity has developed to its present condition by passing through other stages. With the methods of the clairvoyant one can discern three principal stags of this development of mankind which were passed through before the formation of the earth took place and before this sphere became the scene of that development. Therefore at present we are concerned with the fourth stage in the great universal life of man. For now we shall relate the relevant facts here. The deeper explanation will appear in the course of the description, insofar as is possible in the words of ordinary language, that is, without having recourse to the form of expression of mystery science.

Man existed before there was an earth. But one must not imagine — as has already been suggested — that perhaps he had previously lived on other planets and then at a certain time migrated to earth. Rather, the earth has developed together with man. Just as man has passed through three main stages of development, so has the earth, before becoming that which one now calls “earth.” For the time being, as has been indicated above, one must completely liberate oneself from the significance which contemporary science connects with the names “Saturn,” “Sun,” and “Moon,” if one wants to see the explanations of the scientist of the spirit in this area in their proper light. For the present one should connect with these names no other significance than that directly given to them in the following communications.

Before the heavenly body on which the life of man takes place became “earth,” it had had three other forms which one designates as Saturn, Sun, and Moon. On can thus speak of four planets on which the four principal stages of the development of mankind take place Moon, before that Sun, and yet earlier, Saturn. One is justified, as will appear from the following communications, to assume three further principal stages which the earth, or better the heavenly body which developed into the present earth, still has to pass through. In mystery science these have been named Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. Thus the heavenly body with which human destiny is connected has passed through three stages in the past is now in its fourth, and will in the future have to pass through three more until all the talents which man has within himself are developed, until he arrives at the peak of his perfection.

One must realize that the development of man and of his heavenly body does not proceed as gradually as for instance the passage of an individual human being through infancy, adolescence and so forth, where one condition goes over into another more or less imperceptibly. Rather there are certain interruptions. The Saturn condition does not go over immediately into the Sun stage. Between Saturn development and Sun development, and similarly between the subsequent forms of the heavenly body inhabited by man, there are intermediate conditions which can be compared with the night between two days or with the sleeplike condition of a plant seed before it again develops into a full plant.

In imitation of oriental descriptions of this state of affairs, contemporary theosophy calls a stage of development in which life is externally furthered, Manvantara, the intermediate condition of rest, Pralaya. In accordance with the usage of European mystery science, one can use the word “open cycle” for the former condition, and on the other hand, “hidden or closed cycle” for the latter. But other designations are also in common use. Saturn, Sun, Moon, earth, and so forth, are “open cycles,” and the periods of rest between them are “closed” ones.

It would be quite erroneous to think that in the periods of rest all life is extinct, although today this idea can be encountered in many theosophical circles. Just as little as man ceases to live during his sleep, so little does his life and that of his heavenly body become extinct during a “closed cycle” (Pralaya). It is only that the conditions of life in the periods of rest cannot be perceived with the senses which have been developed during the “open cycles,” just as during his sleep man does not perceive what is taking place around him. Why one uses the expression “cycle” for the stages of development will become sufficiently clear in the course of the following discussion. Only later can we speak about the enormous periods of time which are required for these “cycles.”

One can find a thread through the course of the cycles by following for a moment the development of human consciousness through them. Everything else can suitably arise out of this consideration of consciousness.

The consciousness which man develops during his life-course on earth will be called — in accordance with European mystery science — the “clear consciousness of day.” The latter consists in the fact that through his present senses, man perceives the things and beings of the world and that he forms conceptions and ideas concerning these things and beings with the help of his understanding and of his reason. He then acts in the world of the senses according to these perceptions, conceptions, and ideas. Man formed this consciousness only in the fourth principal stage of his cosmic development; on Saturn, Sun, and Moon it did not yet exist. There he lived in other conditions of consciousness. As a result, one can describe the three previous stages of development as the unfolding of lower conditions of consciousness.

The lowest condition of consciousness was passed through during the Saturn development; the Sun condition is higher, then follows the Moon consciousness and finally that of earth.

These former consciousnesses are primarily distinguished from the earthly one by two characteristics: by the degree of clarity, and by the area over which the perception of man extends.

The Saturn consciousness has the lowest degree of clarity. It is entirely dull. It is difficult to give an exact idea of this dullness, since even the dullness of sleep is somewhat clearer than this consciousness. In abnormal, so-called deep states of trance, modern man can still fall back into this state of consciousness. The clairvoyant in the sense of mystery science can also form a correct conception of it. But by no means does he himself live in this state of consciousness. On the contrary, he ascends to a much higher one, which however in certain respects is similar to the original one. In the ordinary man at the contemporary terrestrial stage, this condition, through which he once passed, has been effaced by the “clear consciousness of day.” The “medium” who falls into a deep trance, however, is transported back into it, so that he perceives in the same way in which all men perceived during the “Saturn period.” Either during the trance or after awaking, such a medium can then tell of experiences which are similar to those of the Saturn stage. One must be careful to say that they are “similar,” not “identical,” for the events which took place on Saturn are once and for all past; only events which have a certain affinity with them still take place in the environment of man. These can only be perceived by a “Saturn consciousness.”

Like the medium, the clairvoyant in the above sense acquires such a Saturn consciousness, but in addition to it he keeps his “clear consciousness of day,” which man did not yet have on Saturn, and which the medium loses in the state of trance. Such a clairvoyant is not in the Saturn consciousness itself, but he can form a conception of it.

While this Saturn consciousness is by some degrees inferior to the one of today with respect to clarity, it is superior to the latter with respect to the extent of what it can perceive. In its dullness it can not only perceive everything which takes place on its own heavenly body down to the last detail, but it can also observe the objects and beings on other heavenly bodies which are connected with Saturn. It can also exercise a certain influence on these objects and beings. (It hardly need be said that this observation of other heavenly bodies is quite different from that which contemporary man can undertake by means of his scientific astronomy. This astronomical observation is based on the “clear consciousness of day” and therefore perceives other heavenly bodies from the outside. The Saturn consciousness, on the other hand, is immediate sensation, an experiencing of what takes place on other heavenly bodies. One does not speak altogether accurately, but still fairly so, if one says that an inhabitant of Saturn experienced objects and events of other heavenly bodies — and of his own — as a man of today experiences his heart and his heartbeat or something similar in his own body.)

This Saturn consciousness developed slowly. As the first principal stage in the development of mankind it passed through a series of subordinate stages, which in European mystery science are called “small cycles.” In theosophical literature it has become customary to call these “small cycles,” “rounds,” and their further sub-divisions — still smaller cycles — “globes.” These subordinate cycles will be dealt with in subsequent discussions. For the sake of greater clarity, we shall first follow here the principal stages of development. For the moment we shall speak only of man, although the development of subordinate and superior entities and objects proceeds concurrently with his own. That which concerns the development of other entities will then follow the discussion of man's progress.

When the development of the Saturn consciousness was completed, there occurred one of the long rest periods (a Pralaya) mentioned above. After this there developed out of the heavenly body of man what in mystery science is called the “Sun.” On the Sun, the human beings again emerged from their sleep. The previously developed Saturn consciousness was present in them as a predisposition. First they again developed it from this germ. One can say that on the Sun man repeated the condition of Saturn before ascending to a higher one. However, it is not a simple repetition which is meant here, but one in another form. These transformations of forms will be discussed later when we deal with the smaller cycles. At that time the differences between the individual “repetitions” will also become apparent. Now we shall describe only the development of consciousness.

After the repetition of the Saturn condition, the “Sun consciousness” of man appears. This is somewhat clearer than the preceding consciousness, but on the other hand it has lost something with respect to broadness of vision. In the deep, dreamless sleep of his present life, man has a condition of consciousness similar to that which he once had on the Sun. However, he who is not a clairvoyant or a medium cannot perceive the objects and beings corresponding to the Sun consciousness. With the trance of a medium reduced to this condition, and with the higher consciousness of the true clairvoyant, the case here is similar to what has been said with respect to the Saturn consciousness.

The extent of the Sun consciousness is limited to the Sun and the heavenly bodies most closely connected with it. It is only these and their events which the inhabitant of the Sun can experience as — to use once again the simile employed above — man of today experiences his heartbeat. In this way the inhabitant of Saturn could also participate in the life of those heavenly bodies which did not belong to the immediate sphere of Saturn.

When the Sun stage has passed through the appropriate subordinate cycles, it also enters a period of rest. From this the heavenly body of man awakes to its “Moon existence.” Before ascending higher, again man passes through the Saturn and Sun stage in two smaller cycles. Then he enters his Moon consciousness. One can more easily form an idea of the latter, for there is a certain similarity between this stage of consciousness and a sleep filled with dreams. It must be explicitly stated that here again one can only speak of a similarity, not of an identity. It is true that the Moon consciousness is composed of images such as appear in dreams, but these images correspond to the objects and events around man in a way similar to the ideas of the present “clear consciousness of day.” But everything in this correspondence is still dull, in fact, image-like. One can represent this state of affairs to oneself in approximately the following way. Assume that a Moon-being comes near an object, let us say near salt. (Of course, at that time there was no “salt” in its present form, but after all, in order to be understood, one must remain in the area of images and similes.) This Moon-being — the precursor of present-day man — does not perceive an object with spatial extension and a definite coloring and form outside itself; instead, the approach to this object causes a certain image — similar to a dream image — to arise as it were within this being. This image has a certain coloring which depends on the characteristics of the object. If the object is agreeable to the being and useful for its existence, the coloring is light in yellow nuances, or in green; if the object is disagreeable or is one which is harmful to the being, a blood-like, reddish color nuance appears. The clairvoyant also sees in this way today, only he is fully conscious during this seeing, while the Moon inhabitant had only a dreamlike, dim consciousness. The images appearing “within” these inhabitants had an exactly defined relationship to the environment. There was nothing arbitrary in them. It was possible to direct oneself by them; one acted under the impression of these images as today one acts under the impression of sensory perceptions.

The development of this dreamlike consciousness — the third principal stage — was the task of the “Moon cycle.” When the “Moon” had passed through the appropriate “small cycles,” a period of rest (Pralaya) again occurred. After this, the “Earth” emerged from the darkness.

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
The Rudolf Steiner e.Lib is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com