Home > Roy Wilkinson Book > Chapter 3 "The Development of Human Consciousness"


When we observe the growing child, it is obvious that there are distinct phases of development. The very small baby spends a great deal of its time asleep. Its eyes do not focus. It has no idea of time or space. It does not knowingly undertake anything but lives in a sleeping-dreaming world of its own, cared for by the adults around it. About a year after birth the child stands, begins to walk and express itself, but still it is very much dependent on the world around and imitates what it sees. At a certain stage it begins to use the word 'I'. This is the beginning of a feeling of individuality.

In the following years it may speak of fairies or giants or have flights of fantasy which, to the adult mind, are somewhat unreal but certainly fairy stories and legends are food for the mind at the age of 5, 6 or 7.

It will be noticed that the early, clumsy groping of the small child gradually gives way to a much more controlled movement of the limbs; also that the child of 9 or 10 begins to show much more interest in things of the outer world and this is accompanied by a feeling of separation from it. That is to say, the child is becoming more conscious of itself as an individual among other individuals.

There is a very obvious change at the age of puberty. The mind begins to function on a different level. The intellect wakes up. There is a marked development both physically and mentally. The adolescent wants knowledge, wants independence, wants to be self-responsible.

Twenty-one used to be considered the right age at which to hand the young person the key of the front door. It is still the age which marks a certain maturity.

What is this process of development which has taken place? Before answering the question, we must consider the two sides of human nature which we may term, in a general sense, the spiritual and the physical.

At birth the physical body comes into the world but it is obvious that there is something more than the merely physical. In the process of growth it becomes even more evident that some force or entity is making its presence felt in the body. We could say that the individuality is manifesting itself or that the personality matures. But we can be much more concrete provided that we are convinced of the existence of a spiritual world and the possibility of a life before birth. In this case we think of man as a spiritual being, living part of his existence in a spiritual world. This spiritual being connects itself with a bodily organism for a time and birth is an important stage in the process. Using the Latin term we could say that the spirit has 'incarnated', i.e., has come into the flesh. But birth is not the final stage and the process of physical growth is accompanied by a process of further 'incarnation'.

Whatever expression is used, it is obvious that the development taking place is one from unconsciousness, through semi-consciousness, to a full waking consciousness. It is progression to a full awareness of the self.

A similar process can be observed in the historical development of man. There is a grand-sounding scientific phrase which states: 'Phylogenesis is repeated in ontogenesis.' It means that the individual follows the pattern of the race. In other words, the stages of the development of the human being are similar to those of the historical development of humanity. An initial dreamlike state gives way to fuller incarnation and greater waking consciousness.

If we accept that growth in the human being is bound up with the development of consciousness and assume that the above statement is correct, then we should be able to trace the development of consciousness in history. We shall gain some insight into the changes in perception and understanding which have taken place, and, on the basis of past history, perhaps even get a glimpse into the future.

It is necessary to take a wide view.

We live in a material world, the world to which our physical body belongs and the world which provides for our physical needs. But the material world is only a part of reality just as the physical body is only a part of the whole human being. The other part is the spiritual world, inhabited by higher beings and by human souls after leaving and before entering the physical plane. For the most part modern man has no direct contact with this other world but in the past it was not so. Ages ago the human being could perceive spiritual worlds and we refer to this faculty here as spiritual vision. (The term 'clairvoyance' could be used but as this is connected with the dubious practices of so-called spiritualism we avoid it.) Spiritual vision must be understood as a general term to cover perception of the spiritual world, e.g. to include spiritual hearing.

In very ancient times this was a common human faculty but it gradually became more difficult to exercise. However, certain highly developed or especially gifted persons kept it, or it could be attained by special training. The Pharaohs of Egypt are a case in point. Those who were able, or were enabled, to keep contact with the spiritual world were known as 'initiates' and the process by which contact was achieved was known as 'initiation'.

The leaders of mankind in those days thus received direct inspiration and the mass of people followed their guidance without question. But in this respect there has also been a change.

Modern man is aware of himself as an individual, or, to use another term, he has developed ego-consciousness. Significant in this respect is the freedom from family ties. In past times the individual was much more closely connected with his family or tribe, and acted not so much on his own initiative as out of a group feeling — hence blood feuds. We refer to this attitude as group-consciousness or the working of the group-soul.

The main ideas which show the changes that have taken place in history, and which will be dealt with in this chapter, might be formulated as follows:

  • Awareness of the spiritual world has been lost and has given way to a perception of the physical only.
  • Thinking has taken the place of direct spiritual vision.
  • Group-consciousness has declined in favour of ego-consciousness.

A Survey of Past Civilizations

Looking back in history we note that the modern age began at about the time of the Renaissance. Previous to this was the Graeco-Roman civilization. Before that the leading cultures were those of Egypt, Chaldea, Babylonia and Assyria. Further back in the past were Persian and Indian civilizations which we will term Ancient Persia and Ancient India in order not to confuse them with later developments.

If we look at the dates concerned, we note: 1413 Renaissance; c. 740 BC, Rome is founded; 3000 BC, Egyptian epoch begins. In each case we recognize a period of about 2000 years. On this reckoning we could place Ancient Persia about 5000 BC and Ancient India 7000 BC.

Let us deviate for a moment and look at these figures from another angle. We recognize as a fact of the universe that there are 12 signs of the zodiac and that the Sun has a particular relationship with each sign during the course of the year, which gives us our 12 months. But there is also a greater rhythm whereby the Sun has a particular relationship with each sign of the zodiac over a period of 2160 years. As each month has its characteristics in relationship to the constellations, so has each period of 2160 years, and it is during this period of time that a civilization is born, flourishes and dies. We shall see that in each epoch there is a change in the inner nature of man. (Obviously life continues in the various areas concerned but the new impulse manifests itself each time in a new location and what is described here is the leading culture of each period.)

Since there are no historical records of the very early civilizations, we must hazard a guess at their character with the help of the mythologies or refer to Rudolf Steiner's indications, or both.

In his view there had been a great civilization on a continent which is now beneath the Atlantic Ocean and which is sometimes referred to as the 'lost' continent, Atlantis. For the purpose of this survey we start at this point in time and make no reference to earlier periods in Earth's history.

The continent of Atlantis was destroyed by man's misuse of occult powers. There lived, however, a number of highly developed personalities (initiates) who were aware of what was to come and who led chosen groups into what was later Europe and Asia, where new cultures were eventually founded. The story of Noah and the flood is the story of the sinking of Atlantis and the migration of certain peoples. Other races wandered in the other direction, into the Americas. The date given for the final stages of the catastrophe is about 8000 BC.

The most advanced leader (Noah) and people proceeded to central Asia where a spiritual centre was founded from which the next three cultures were inspired.

We speak then of post-Atlantean periods of culture or civilizations. The first three were:
Ancient India
Ancient Persia

They were followed by:
The present or fifth post-Atlantean epoch.

As Earth development proceeds in cycles of seven we can presume that two more will follow in the present phase.

The Ancient Cultures of India, Persia and Egypt

Although there may be no actual records of Ancient India in existence, there are a great many stories and legends which have been handed down and a perusal of these gives a clue to the state of mind of the humanity of that period. There exist, for example, numerous references to a repetition of life on Earth (reincarnation) and to the law of recompense. The latter implies that a person's good or bad deeds during one life on Earth have their compensation in another. There is mention of gods holding converse with men, walking side by side with them, and of tasks to fulfil, for which purpose the gods have incarnated on Earth. One story tells of a princess who follows the soul of her dead husband into the spiritual world; another describes how a sinless man gave up his body in order that a magic weapon might be made from his bones.

In studying the stories one becomes aware of the belief in an overall spiritual power or deity which orders all things. This was called Brahman (the All-One). There is also a timeless aspect and a feeling of renunciation. Time is of no consequence and fate must be accepted. Life on Earth is felt as a sort of banishment. The external material world is an illusion and the soul longs for the heavenly regions which it really feels to be its home.

Although the story of the Buddha is much later, the idea behind it characterizes the attitude. It expresses the desire to leave behind life on Earth and to enter the eternal state of bliss known as Nirvana.

From such indications one can draw certain conclusions about the attitude of mind of the people of this remote age, particularly if one compares it with that of modern western man. To the man of today the material world is real and the spiritual — even allowing that there is one — is something vague and nebulous. His urge is to change the world, to make his own destiny, and not to waste time about it.

As far as the inhabitants of Ancient India were concerned, we can conclude that they had a direct awareness of the spiritual and that it was the Earth and earthly matters which were unreal.

From Rudolf Steiner's researches we understand that this civilization was guided by the Holy Rishis or Sages who were inspired by the great initiate who had led the colony from Atlantis. Guidance was not given to the people by words or by any external means. The special constitution of human beings in that era allowed a direct influence from the leaders to flow into them, a sort of supersensible transference of impulse.

The next great epoch is that of the Ancient Persians or Iranians, whose civilization arose in the highlands of present Persia. Again, we can look at certain legends and make certain deductions.

One story says that the great god Ahura Mazdao (known also as Ormuzd), who lived in the light of the Sun, gave one of the first leaders a golden dagger with which he was to draw a furrow in the Earth. It is symbolic. It shows that the attention of man was to be turned towards the Earth.

It is however from the legends of Zarathustra (Zoroaster to the Greeks) that we can most easily read the trend of events. At the beginning of the period under consideration there was a struggle in progress between the Iranians, who worshipped Ahura Mazdao and who were led by Zarathustra, and the Turanians, worshippers of Ahriman, the god of darkness. Zarathustra was under the guidance of the great Sun-spirit but had to go through a long period of preparation before he was able to receive communications directly. Eventually the Turanians were expelled from the land and Zarathustra was able to teach his people the arts of peace. He taught them how to till the earth, to cultivate grain and fruit, to raise domestic animals. He also taught that the physical world was imbued with spirit, and that the earth should therefore be treated with due reverence. Agriculture became a holy duty.

Just as a struggle had taken place for possession of the land between those who served the light and those who served the dark, so was there a continual struggle taking place for the soul of man between opposing forces. It was therefore a sacred duty of the Persian to speak the truth and thus combat the power of Ahriman. Referring to Dr Steiner on this point, we learn that with the new orientation towards the physical world it became possible for Ahriman to influence the soul, i.e. to tempt man into thinking that the material world is the end-all and be-all of existence — hence the ethical teaching.

So in the Persian epoch we see clearly a shift in emphasis. Man has to make contact with the Earth. The material world is not an illusion and he must come to terms with it. The spiritual world is no longer quite so present, not even to the leaders, who could only make contact with it through effort and discipline. As yet there is little evidence of individuality. The mass of people are still led.

There is much more historical evidence available concerning the beliefs and attitudes of the peoples of the third epoch, so that this can be taken into consideration along with other factors.

First one might look at the enormous architectural creations of the Egyptians. Not only are the pyramids massive constructions but so are the temples and the underground tombs. We know also that the Egyptians were skilled workers in many media, craftsmen of the highest order. They had their doctors and their dentists, their mathematicians, astronomers, musicians and bankers. They had a form of writing known as hieroglyphics which was, however, made up of pictures and not letters as our own.

At death the bodies were mummified. The soul was thus, in a certain way, fettered to the Earth.

The Pharaoh was the priest-king and society was ordered under his direction and that of his priests. They read the signs in the heavens and organized life in accordance with what they read. They still felt a connection between the spiritual and the physical worlds.

The matter of initiation, i.e. the ability to penetrate to the spiritual world, was becoming more difficult. A long period of preparation and careful guidance were necessary. The first and foremost initiate was the Pharaoh and the line of succession was carefully chosen.

The Egypto-Chaldean still felt himself as a being belonging to the whole universe but for the mass of the people actual spiritual vision was very dim or disappearing. The fact that dreams had to be 'interpreted' points to this. Since the matter of death is only significant when consciousness of the spiritual world no longer exists, there was a growing interest in death and in the life beyond. The Egyptian could speak of a 'golden age', a time when the gods lived on Earth, but this was now in the past. Only a memory of it remained and a belief that the world was divinely created. The spiritual was the foundation of the physical and therefore it was believed that an understanding of the physical would lead to understanding the spirit. Hence the impulse towards science. The Chaldeans in particular sought to understand God and the divine will by studying the movements of the stars.

Similar trends are to be found in Babylon. Hammurabi set up a code of laws about the year 1940 BC but he regarded these as sacred commandments received from the Sun-god. The Babylonians had an artisan god Ea, who instructed the people in crafts, including writing and mathematics.

It is obvious from the above that interest was shifting towards the material world. Man was far less conscious of the spiritual world and becoming much more at home in the physical.

With regard to the feeling of individuality, this does not yet manifest itself to any great degree. In the Hammurabi code provision was made to punish blood relatives for the crimes of one of their kin, which shows that the sense for the individual was not very strong. On the other hand there is evidence of a trend towards independence if we look at certain aspects of Egyptian beliefs.

The Egyptians believed that the soul had to undergo trials in the underworld, that is to say, it had to justify itself.

This comes very near to a feeling of self-responsibility. It is also significant that the dead were buried with their possessions. To possess something as an individual — to say 'this is mine' — is an ego characteristic. Possibly it made no difference to the dead but the idea reinforced the feeling of self in the living.

The stories and mythologies too give an insight into developments.

Before the great Sun-god of the Egyptians, Ra, left the Earth, he married a mortal woman and their descendants were the Pharaohs. Thus we have the idea of the half-god, the initiate, the priest-king.

Egyptian sources tell us that man was endowed with the gift of a 'Ka' by the Sun-god. Being awake means that the Ka is dwelling in the body and sleep is its temporary absence. At death the Ka separates itself from the body and continues its existence in another world.

The story of Osiris illustrates the changing mentality. Osiris was a good king, very concerned with the welfare of his people. By a trick he was overcome by his brother Seth (Typhon is an alternative name) who usurped his throne and dismembered his body, scattering the parts. Isis, the wife of Osiris, built a temple on the spot where each part was buried. In her wanderings she gave birth to the child, Horus, who eventually drove out Seth and ruled in his place.

Osiris became the king and ruler of the dead.

We could take Seth to represent the material forces which seek to destroy the human soul and spirit of man which are still in direct contact with the spiritual world, and are represented by Osiris. Seth nearly succeeds but a spark of the divine (Isis) survives. Temples are built as symbols that spirit and matter have a connection, showing that spirit can be incorporated in matter. New faculties (Horus) are born which can overcome the powers of darkness and find the spiritual again (Osiris) but only by penetrating into the world of the dead. That is to say there is now a barrier to spiritual vision which has to be overcome.

The death of Osiris is symbolic of the disappearance of the old powers of spiritual vision and the birth of Horus is the birth of a new intellectual faculty. The spiritual world has receded but is to be attained in a new form. The Egyptian wished to be united with Osiris and this means a striving for the spiritual.

In the Babylonian mythologies are two significant stories which illustrate our theme, those of Etana and Gilgamesh.

Etana was a king whose wife was expecting a child and who wished to learn the secrets of birth. An eagle took him on his back through the starry regions where he gained the knowledge he desired.

If the king had still possessed spiritual vision, he would have known the secrets, hence we can assume its loss and the journey through the starry regions must symbolize some sort of initiation.

The story of Gilgamesh is very complicated and here we refer to only a few points in it.

Gilgamesh was a king who had lost a close friend and wanted to learn the secrets of death. This is complementary to Etana's wish since the secrets of birth and death are the same and they are only secrets to one who has lost knowledge of the spiritual world.

From the description of the character of Gilgamesh, we might gather that he is a person becoming conscious of his own ego. He strives as an individual. We are told that he wished to leave on Earth an 'enduring' name. He built great walls for his city; he was dissatisfied with life, became selfish and 'lorded' it over his people.

He has a desire for adventure and he consults the Sun-god. One question he puts shows very clearly the nascent ego and the independence that goes along with it: 'Why did you give me the desire for adventure if it is not to be fulfilled?'

We have another example of the same thing when the city goddess (who symbolizes the group-soul consciousness) tries to seduce him. He rejects her with decidedly uncomplimentary remarks.

The journey on which Gilgamesh sets out to find his lost friend can only be understood as an initiation process. He meets with all sorts of trials and tribulations. Among others he meets one of his ancestors who explains that in his day men had immortal life, but now they must die. Again we find reference to the loss of spiritual vision.

Gilgamesh is allowed to question the ghost of his friend, i.e. his penetration into the spiritual world is incomplete. He finds a magic plant which has the power of rejuvenation but it is stolen from him and he returns to his city empty-handed. The significance is that he has sought initiation but not achieved it. We can assume that this path is no longer the right one.

We cannot consider this epoch without glancing at a special feature of it, namely, the Hebrews. Led by Jehovah, a high ranking spiritual being, their mission was to prepare a physical body for the coming Christ. For this purpose they had to keep themselves to themselves and obey a strict code of ethics. It is interesting to note that, like other peoples of the period, there was no feeling of inner conscience, no pro-

nounced individual striving and only the prophets had vision.

The ten commandments are negative injunctions: 'Thou shalt not, etc.' They were given at a time when man could not develop morality within himself since the power of the ego was insufficient. By contrast, Christ's commandments are positive, but at the same time unenforceable.

'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.'
'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'

To sum up, then, we can say that in this third period there is a loss of spiritual vision, a growing interest in the material world, and a growing consciousness of self as an individual.

The Birth of Thinking in Greece

A turning point comes in the Graeco-Roman period. There were two institutions in Greece which still kept a direct connection with the spiritual world but they were only available to selected candidates. One was the so-called Mystery Schools and the other the Oracles. The Mystery Schools were a sort of university for those following a supersensible path. The pupils learned to appreciate and possibly perceive the spiritual background of the world. The Oracles were staffed by priests who purported to hear the voice of the gods and could advise those who came to seek their help.

To the great mass of the people the spiritual world was no longer apparent and the world beyond the grave was a place of gloom. But another faculty was taking the place of spiritual vision, namely thinking. The evidence for this is that we can give a date to the birth of philosophy. This is about the year 600 BC when the minds of men began to concern themselves with problems of origin and existence. We note here the great question of the first Greek philosophers and infer a significant fact: 'Out of what did all things originate?' There was no agreement except that the world had come into existence from one element or another, i.e. something with substance such as water or air. It is a very different concept from the biblical 'void' and we see a step towards the material world.

We spoke of Egyptian architecture. There is something very stark about it, very massive. By contrast the Greek buildings give a much more balanced impression. When we look at Egyptian statues, they appear to have a vacant, almost lifeless look, as if the individual is not quite on the Earth. The Greek figures have a more human look and give a much greater expression of individuality.

The new-found power of thought, directed to the physical world, resulted in discoveries and inventions. In addition to the famous law which he discovered, Archimedes made an appliance for pumping water (the screw of Archimedes), pulleys and levers and a model of the planets. The power of thought also brought about a systematic study of nature or natural science as we should call it.

The peak of natural scientific study and philosophy is reached with Aristotle. His studies were universal and ranged over all spheres of activity. He was the first to make a classification of animals. He taught his pupils to observe (i.e. use their senses — eye, ear, etc.), collect facts and then come to conclusions. That is to say, he advocated thinking as a means of understanding the world. He is the father of logic.

In this epoch outstanding characters began to emerge. We have mentioned Archimedes and Aristotle. Another great historical figure also provides an excellent example of the development taking place. This is Socrates.

Socrates believed that the physical world was a manifestation of the divine and that reason could attain to truth. He acquired through reason the same knowledge as was taught in the Mysteries and hence he was accused (wrongly) of betraying them. His method of teaching was to instruct his pupils to observe and think, and then he would question them. It was his desire that knowledge should come through philosophical thought and pupils had to school their own thinking. Socrates also spoke of an inner voice, which was something new in history. We might call it 'conscience' but up to that time conscience had been something working from outside, known to the Greeks as the Furies.

In the Greek stories, too, we see the same pattern of events. Perhaps the most telling is the story of Odysseus. He was the one who had invented the Trojan horse, a strategic move which could only be achieved by the dawning intellect. If we compare the story of the Trojan war, the Iliad, with the story of Odysseus, the Odyssey, it is evident that the characters in both are influenced by the gods, yet the heroes in the Odyssey are obviously much more independent.

After the fall of Troy, Odysseus sets off for home. He loses all his companions, he is shipwrecked, he endures innumerable hardships and overcomes endless temptations. He finally arrives home penniless and an outcast, to find his wife being wooed by other men who wish to usurp his kingdom. He re-establishes himself and becomes 'master in his own house.'

Throughout his adventures the goddess Athene has been his guide and friend.

Whatever the historical basis of the story we can understand it on another plane. Athene represents the power of clear thought. Odysseus has struggled as an individual; he has overcome lower passions; he has persevered in adversity. Finally, when he comes home, he asserts himself. To be master in one's own house can be understood as the triumph of mind over body.

A sign of the growing feeling of ego-consciousness is the fact that the Greeks originated democracy. This shows a move towards individualism but it is not yet quite established. The Greek felt himself as an individual yet still within a group. He was an Athenian, or a Spartan. Thus arose the city-states where government was conducted by the collective will of the citizens.

The Materialism of Rome

With the ascendancy of Rome came a real descent to the material world. The spiritual world had receded entirely and knowledge was replaced by scepticism. Religion became a formality. The gods were accorded a place on the principle of playing safe. Worship of the state became almost a cult, demanding loyalty and devotion. In time the emperors were deified. Man was elevated to the position of a god.

The story of the beginnings of Rome is very significant. The war-god Mars seduced one of the vestal virgins who gave birth to the twins Romulus and Remus. They were suckled by a wolf, symbol of the dark forces of materialism. When they were grown up, they decided to build a city and Romulus marked a boundary with instructions that no one must cross it. Remus jumped over it and Romulus slew him. The city was then populated by adventurers, robbers, brigands, murderers — fugitives of every kind.

Rome became the physical conqueror of the world; material wealth and power were its aims. Physical courage was praised. Victors in battle were accorded triumphs and honour.

Whereas in Greece the power of thought manifested itself mainly in philosophy, in Rome it was applied to practical matters — town planning, fortifications, surveying, mining, engineering, provision of water supplies, sanitation.

The growing feeling for the individual, the ego-consciousness, shows itself in the development of a system of law. Each citizen had rights. Whereas in earlier times disputes had been referred to the deity or to the divinely inspired ruler, now a man, a judge, was appointed to adjudicate, and he followed a set code. Henceforth social life was not based on direction from above but on arrangements made between human beings.

The ego feeling shows itself also in other respects. In ancient Rome the father exercised absolute authority (patria potestas) over his children. Even acquisitions made by the child became the property of the father. He might allow a child, or even a slave, to treat certain things as his own but in law they still belonged to him, the father. In the course of time this law was changed and the children could become owners in their own right. It is a sign of the ending of blood ties. The making of wills is a Roman invention; the individual wished to assert himself even after his death. In the personalities it is possible to discern stronger individual traits e.g. Horatius on the bridge. One sees also in Roman statuary more personal expressions.

Into the Roman world Christ was born. It was a turning point in the history of the Earth. The contrary powers were threatening to overwhelm man. By becoming man Christ linked himself permanently with human evolution, bringing a spiritual force to the Earth whereby man would be given the possibility of ascent by his own efforts.

The Dawn of a New Age

The Roman world disintegrated and, after a period known as the Dark Ages, a new impulse was born in the fifteenth century, known as the Renaissance. In the Dark Ages, religion had become petrified in outer form. What in earlier times had been revelation had become dogma. The Church usurped spiritual life, preaching its own omniscience and demanding faith on the part of its adherents. It had taken on the trappings of imperial Rome. It might be said that the ego had slumbered during this period. Now it woke up. We could say that humanity was coming into puberty and its intellectual powers were awakening. As the adolescent of 14 or 15 looks around, casts off authority and wants to know and understand individually, so was the general human trend in those parts of the world where the new civilization was to develop. This was Europe and the people essentially concerned were the Teutons, a vigorous race which had overwhelmed and absorbed the Graeco-Roman world.

The enquiring mind of man now delved further into matter. The new path to knowledge was by means of scientific investigation. Understanding was to be achieved by the powers of reasoning but reasoning was applied only to the physical world. This brought about a mechanistic view of life where everything is explicable from the physical point of view. It even brought about the idea of thinking as some sort of mechanical process.

Scientific investigation discovers the laws underlying the forces of nature and the result is inventions and discoveries which transform the world. We have only to think of the enormous achievements in technology, the discovery of new worlds in the sixteenth century and now the probings into space. We live in a very materialistic world.

At the same time the feeling of ego has become very strong. We see ego forces bursting forth at the Reformation with individualities like Wycliffe, Hus and Luther. The great explorations were undertaken by strong personalities such as Columbus, Pizarro and Drake. Scientists such as Galileo and Copernicus asserted their beliefs in spite of opposition. We might also think of the empire builders.

But the advent of ego-consciousness also causes conflict, and problems regarding the relationship of the individual to the community are still unsolved.

There are glimmerings of a new dawn since the end of the nineteenth century. Materialism has not produced the anticipated paradise and it is being realized that the physical world is not whole in itself. Christ's words come to mind, 'Ye shall not live by bread alone'. The human being needs a spiritual side to his life and a knowledge of spiritual worlds to satisfy his soul.

Man has won his independence from the gods and now takes his own evolution in hand. He had to come to terms with the material world but he also now has the power to develop his faculties that he may again perceive the spiritual worlds in order to derive knowledge, inspiration and guidance from such a source. But this time he will be conscious of both physical and spiritual worlds. He can ascend again and retain his earthly consciousness. This is a matter of self-development and on this path lies the future of mankind.

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Rudolf Steiner. An Introduction to his Spiritual World-View, Anthroposophy. © Roy Wilkinson 1998