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Cosmic Memory

Rudolf Steiner e.Lib Document

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

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Cosmic Memory

On-line since: 31st March, 2008

The Life of the Sun

AFTER THE GREAT cosmic era of Saturn, which has been described in the preceding pages, there follows that of the Sun. Between them lies a period of rest (Pralaya). During this period, everything human which has developed on Saturn takes on a character which stands in the same relation to the subsequently to be developed Sun man as the seed to the plant which emerges from it. Saturn man, as it were, has left behind his seed, which is sunk in a kind of sleep, after which it will develop into Sun man.

Man now passes through his second stage of consciousness on the Sun. It resembles that into which today man sinks during a calm and dreamless sleep. This condition, which interrupts man's state of wakefulness today, is a remainder, as it were, a memory of the time of the Sun development. One can also compare it with that dull state of consciousness in which the world of plants exists today. As a matter of fact, in the plant one must see a sleeping being.

In order to understand the development of mankind, one must realize that in this second great cycle the Sun was still a planet, and that only later did it advance to the existence of a fixed star. In the sense of mystery science, a fixed star is one which sends life forces to one or several planets situated at a distance from it. During the second cycle this was not yet the case with the Sun. At that time it was still united with the beings to which it gave force. These beings — and also man at his level of development of that time — still lived on it. A planetary earth, separated from Sun and Moon, did not exist. Everything in the way of substances, forces, and beings which exists on and in the earth today, and everything which now belongs to the Moon, was still within the Sun. It formed a part of its substances, forces, and beings. Only during the next (third) great cycle did that detach itself from the Sun which in mystery science is called the Moon. This is not the present moon, but the predecessor of our earth, its previous embodiment (reincarnation), as it were. This Moon became the earth, after it in turn had detached from its substance and cast off what one today designates as moon. In the third cycle two bodies thus existed in place of the former planetary Sun, namely, the fixed star Sun and the split-off planetary Moon. Man and the other beings which had developed as man's companions during the course of the Sun, had been taken out of the Sun along with the Moon. The Sun now provided the Moon beings from the outside with those forces which they had previously obtained directly from it as their dwelling-place.

After the third (Moon) cycle there occurred another period of rest (Pralaya). During this period the two separate bodies (Sun and Moon) became united and together passed through the condition of the sleeping seed. In the fourth cyclic period, Sun and planetary Moon at first emerged from the obscurity of sleep as one body. During the first half of this cycle our earth, along with man and his companions, split off from the Sun. A little later it cast off the present moon, so there now exist three members as descendants of the former Sun planet.

On the Sun planet, man and the other beings mentioned in the course of the discussion of Saturn passed through another stage of their development in the second great cosmic era. The rudiment of the later physical body of man, which had gradually developed on Saturn, emerges like a plant from the seed at the beginning of the Sun cycle. But here it does not remain in the same state in which it was previously. It is permeated by a second, more delicate, but in itself more powerful body, the ether body. While the Saturn body of man was a kind of automaton (quite lifeless), now, through the ether body which gradually permeates it completely, it becomes an animated being. Man thereby becomes a kind of plant. His appearance, however, is not that of the plants of today. Rather in his forms he already somewhat resembles present-day man. But, the rudiment of the head like the plant root of today, is turned downward, toward the center of the Sun, and the rudiments of the feet turned upward like the blossom of the plant. This plant-man organism has as yet no capacity of voluntary movement.*

But man only develops into this form during the second of the seven smaller cycles (rounds) through which the Sun passes. For the duration of the first of these small cycles there is as yet no ether body in the human organism. Everything which occurred during the Saturn era is then repeated in brief. The physical body of man still retains its automatic character, but it changes its previous form somewhat. If it were to remain as it was on Saturn, it would not be capable of harboring an ether body. It is changed in such a way that it can become a carrier of this body. During the following six cycles the ether body is developed further and further, and through its forces, which act on the physical body, the latter also gradually receives a more and more perfect form.

The work of transformation which is performed on man here is carried out by the spirits which have already been mentioned in connection with man in our discussion of the Saturn development.

Those spirits which are called “Radiating Lives” or “Flames” (in Christian esoteric science, “Thrones”), are now no longer in question. They have performed their labor in this respect during the first half of the first Saturn cycle. What can be observed during the first Sun cycle (round) is the labor of the “Spirits of Wisdom” (Dominions or Kyriotetes in Christian esoteric doctrine). They have intervened in the development of man around the middle of the first Saturn cycle (see the previous chapter). They now continue their labor during the first half of the first Sun cycle by repeating in successive stages the wise arrangement of the physical body. A little later this labor is joined by that of the “Spirits of Motion” (Dynamis in Christianity. Mahat in theosophical literature). Thereby that period of the Saturn cycle is repeated during which the human body received the capacity of motion. It thus again becomes mobile. In the same way the “Spirits of Form” (Exusiai), those of “Darkness” (in Christianity, Archai, in theosophy, Asuras), then the “Sons of Fire” (Archangels), and finally the “Spirits of Twilight” (Angels, Lunar Pitris) successively repeat their labors. Therewith we have characterized six smaller periods of the first course of the Sun (of the first solstice).

In a seventh of these smaller periods the “Spirits of Wisdom” again intervene. While in their preceding period of labor they had given a wise structure to the human body, they now bestow on the limbs, which have become mobile, the capacity to render their motion a wisdom directed one. Previously it was only the structure which was an expression of inner wisdom; now the motion too becomes such an expression. With this, the first Sun cycle attains its end. It consists of seven successive smaller cycles, of which each one is a short repetition of a Saturn cycle (a Saturn round). In theosophical literature one has become accustomed to calling these seven smaller cycles, which make up a so-called “round,” “globes.” (A round thus takes place in seven “globes.”)

Now, after a period of rest (Pralaya), the first Sun cycle is succeeded by the second. The individual “smallest cycles” or “globes” will be discussed in detail later; at present we shall proceed to the subsequent course of the Sun cycle.

At the end of the first, the human body is already prepared for the reception of the ether body, because the “Spirits of Wisdom” have given him the possibility of wisdom-filled motion.

In the meantime however, these “Spirits of Wisdom” themselves have developed further. Through the labor which they have performed, they have become capable of pouring their substance out of themselves just as the “Flames” poured theirs out in the beginning of the Saturn cycle, thereby giving the physical body its material basis. The substance of the “Spirits of Wisdom” is the “ether,” that is, mobile and power-filled wisdom, in other words, “life.” The ether or life body of man is thus an emanation of the “Wisdom Spirits.”

This emanation continues until around the middle of the second Sun cycle, when the “Spirits of Motion” can again begin with a new activity. Their labor previously could only extend to the physical body of man; now it is transferred to the ether body and implants a powerful activity in it. This continues until the middle of the third Sun cycle. Then the action of the “Spirits of Form” begins. Through them the ether body, which before had had only a cloudlike mobility, receives a definite shape (form).

In the middle of the fourth course of the Sun, these “Spirits of Form” receive a consciousness like that which man will have on “Venus.” the second planet on which he will appear after his earthly existence. This is a supra-psychic consciousness. These spirits attain this as a fruit of their activity during the third and fourth course of the Sun. Thereby they acquire the capacity to transform the sensory germs developed during and after the Saturn period, and which until this time were only physical instruments, into animated senses by means of the ether.

Through a similar process the “Spirits of Darkness” (in Christianity, Archai, in theosophy, Asuras) have at this time attained the level of psychic consciousness, which man will develop only on Jupiter as conscious image consciousness. Thereby they become capable of acting consciously from the astral world. Now the ether body of a being can be influenced from the astral world. The “Spirits of Darkness” did this with respect to the ether body of man. They now implanted in it the Spirit of selfhood (independence and selfishness), as they had previously done in the physical body. One can see how these spirits imparted egoism in all the members of the human entity in turn.

At the same time the “Sons of Fire” attained the stage of consciousness which man today possesses as his waking consciousness. One can say of them that they now become men. Now they can make use of the physical human body for a kind of intercourse with the outside world. In similar fashion the “Spirits of Personality” made use of the physical body from the middle of the fourth Saturn cycle on. But they had used the sensory germs for a kind of perception. The nature of the “Sons of Fire,” however, is such that they pour the warmth of their soul out into their environment. The physical human body is now so far advanced that they can do this through it. Their warmth acts approximately like the warmth of the hen on the egg which she is hatching, that is, it has a life-awakening power. Everything of such a life-awakening power that lies in man and in his companions was implanted into the ether body at that time by the Sons of Fire. We are dealing here with the origin of that warmth which is a condition for the reproduction of all living beings. Later it will become apparent what kind of a transformation this power of warmth went through when the Moon split off from the Sun.

Around the middle of the fifth cycle the “Sons of Fire” have developed so far that they can inoculate the ether body with the capacity which they previously exercised through the physical human body. They now relieve the “Spirits of Personality” in the work on this ether body, which thereby becomes the initiator of a reproductive activity.

In this period they abandon the physical body to the Sons of Twilight (in Christianity, Angels, in theosophy, Lunar Pitris). In the meantime, the latter have acquired a dull image consciousness such as man will have on the Moon. On Saturn they had given the ancestor of man a kind of organ of understanding. Now they further develop the physical instruments of the human spirit, which he will consciously use at later stages of his development. Thereby, through the human body the Seraphim can already reveal themselves on the Sun before the middle of the fifth cycle in a more complete manner than was possible on Saturn.

From the middle of the sixth course of the Sun onward, man himself is so far advanced that he can unconsciously work on his physical body. In this respect he now relieves the “Sons of Twilight.” Through this activity in dullness, he creates the first germinal predisposition to the living spiritual being, which one calls life-spirit (Buddhi). Only at later stages of his development will he become conscious of this spirit of life. As from the seventh Saturn cycle onward, the Thrones voluntarily poured their power into the predisposition to spirit-man which was formed at that time, so the Cherubim now pour out their wisdom, which thenceforward is preserved for the life-spirit of man through all subsequent stages of development. From the middle of the seventh course of the Sun onward, the germ of spirit-man (Atma), already formed on Saturn, appears again. It combines with the life-spirit (Buddhi), and the animated monad (Atma-Buddhi) thus comes into being.

While man works unconsciously on his physical body in this time, the Sons of Twilight take over what must now be done on the ether body in order to develop it further. In this respect they are the successors of the Sons of Fire. They radiate the images of their consciousness into this ether body and thereby, in a kind of dreamlike condition, enjoy the power of reproduction of this body, which has been stimulated by the Sons of Fire. By this, they prepare the development of the pleasure in this power, which later (on the Moon) appears in man and in his fellow-beings.

On Saturn, man's physical body had been formed. The latter was completely lifeless at that time. Such a lifeless body is called mineral by mystery science. One can therefore also say that on Saturn man was mineral, or he passed through the mineral realm. This human mineral did not have the form of a present-day mineral. Minerals as they are at present, did not yet exist at that time.

As has been shown, this human mineral which reemerged from the obscurity of sleep as from a germ, was animated on the Sun. It became a human plant; man passed through the realm of plants.

But not all human minerals are animated in this manner This could not have happened, for the plant man needed the mineral basis for his life. As today there can be no plants without a mineral realm from which they take in their substances, so was it on the Sun with respect to the plant man. For the sake of his further development, the latter had to leave a portion of the human rudiments behind at the level of the minerals. Since on the Sun conditions were quite different from those of Saturn, these minerals which had been thrust back assumed forms quite different from those they had had on Saturn Thus, alongside the human plant realm, a second province, a special mineral realm came into being. It can be seen that man ascends into a higher realm by thrusting a part of his companions down into a lower. We shall see this process repeating itself many times in the subsequent stages of development. It corresponds to a fundamental law of development.

Here again, for the sake of greater clarity, we shall give a summary of the facts of development on the Sun.

  • The Sun is the planet on which develops the second human condition of consciousness, that of dreamless sleep. The physical human body rises to a kind of plant existence through the incorporation of an ether body into it.

  • This development passes through seven subsidiary stages (smaller cycles or “rounds”).

    • In the first of these cycles the stages of development of Saturn are repeated, with respect to the physical body, in a somewhat altered form.

    • At the end of the first cycle begins the pouring out of the ether body by the “Spirits of Wisdom.”

    • In the middle of the second cycle, the work of the “Spirits of Motion” on this body begins.

    • In the middle of the third cycle the action of the “Spirits of Form” on the ether body has its beginning.

    • From the middle of the fourth cycle onward, this body receives selfhood through the “Spirits of Personality.”

    • In the meantime, the physical body has advanced so far through the action of the forces which have been working on it since earlier periods that from the fourth cycle onward the “Spirits of Fire” can elevate themselves to humanity through it.

    • In the middle of the fifth cycle the “Spirits of Fire,” which have previously passed through the stage of humanity, take over the work on the ether body. The “Sons of Twilight” are active in the physical body at this time.

    • Around the middle of the sixth cycle the work on the ether body is transferred to the “Sons of Twilight.” Man himself now works on the physical body.

    • In the course of the seventh cycle the animated monad has come into existence.

* For someone who clings to the sensory perceptions of today, it will of course be difficult to imagine that man lived as a plant being in the Sun itself. It seems inconcervable that a living being could exist in the physical conditions which must be assumed for this state. But it is only a plant of today which is adapted to the present physical earth. It has only developed in this way because its environment is a corresponding one. The Sun plant-being existed under other conditions of life, which correspond to the physical solar conditions of that time.

Last Modified: 28-Apr-2024
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