EVOLUTION FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE
'The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.'
Thus sings the psalmist, but modern science has deprived us of much of the glory — both of the heavens and the Earth. We are told that the stars and planets evolved accidentally out of some cataclysmic event, have come into movement by some indefinable means, and now revolve in accordance with physical laws of attraction and repulsion. On Earth, plant growth is mainly a matter of the right sort and amount of nutrients; colour is a question of vibrations; the human being has evolved from some protoplasm in the primeval mud. Science can explain many things — on its own ground — in a manner very satisfactory to the enquiring mind. In its own way it answers questions concerning the origin of the world and human beings. And yet, is there not something within the human soul which remains unsatisfied by such 'scientific' explanations?
A very elementary consideration of plant life shows that there is a twofoldness present. Physically, there is the plant before us, but where is the life? What is it that manifests in the physical structure? Similarly there is a twofoldness in man. On the one hand, there is all that appertains to the body and, on the other, all that has to do with the mind. We can speak of a world of matter and a world of spirit. Matter by itself has no living quality and it is the presence of spirit, speaking generally, that gives life to matter.
An observation of nature reveals that the formative principle is one of order and organic development. Activity in nature is not simply a series of accidents and catastrophes. Is it reasonable to assume that all the wisdom incarnate in the Earth — the alternation of day and night, the seasons, the whole world of nature and her laws — is an accident?
Is the human body, with its infinite, inbuilt wisdom, a result of accidental processes, to say nothing of the mind and other human attributes?
It is poor logic to reason that life can develop from matter. There must be some other cause and this may lead us to seek the origin of mankind and the world in spiritual creation. We find such views expressed not only by Rudolf Steiner and others but also stated in simple, majestic words in the first chapter of our most famous book: 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.'
We must recognize that there is order in the cosmos, that there is wisdom in terrestrial laws. We know that in the human being the physical matter of the body is continually changing yet there is a continuity. The continuity is provided by the inner being of man and this is a spiritual entity.
Is there not something similar that motivates the cosmos and the Earth? Bricks do not put themselves together to form a building. An architect and craftsmen are necessary. Is it unreasonable to think of an architect of the universe?
That a process of evolution has taken place is generally accepted. The question is 'How?' Material science looks at it one way, as if the Earth has evolved from some accidental combination of elements in the wide spaces of the universe. It divides the development into various periods, Azoic, Palaeozoic, etc. The origin of the human being is also considered as the accidental coming together of various elements. Spiritual science takes a different viewpoint. All is born out of the creative activity of spirit-beings or Hierarchies, which collectively are under the guidance of the Godhead.
The Hierarchies, Earth and mankind are all evolving together, mutually dependent and mutually influencing one another. As individual man passes through stages of development, so does humanity, so do the higher beings, and so does the Earth. Cosmos, Earth and man belong together, have a common origin and are one organic whole. The word 'organic' should be emphasized since not only is man a living being but so is the cosmos, and so is the Earth. They too have periods of growth and decay, rhythms and breathing processes.
Evolution, as far as we can understand it, begins in the minds of the Hierarchies. If we consider a few sophisticated present-day mechanical devices, we cannot help agreeing that they are wonderful creations but they did not come into being by themselves. Behind them lies the inventor's mind. Similarly we can look at the wisdom-filled universe, including mankind, and perhaps we must also agree that some thought lies behind them. But this is not man's thought but the thought of the Hierarchies. Thus we might come to the concept of spiritual beings evolving the idea of mankind and the world. The idea takes form just as does the inventor's brainchild.
In the lengthy process of evolution spiritual beings give of their substance to create bodies, to endow them with life forces, to bestow on them a soul and, finally, to incorporate in them an individuality. Thus the fourfold human being is created. Some of the divine substance is transformed to become the physical Earth and in the course of development the plant and animal worlds come into existence. Man is a spiritual being who evolves through experience in the physical and gradually becomes like his creators.
The Hierarchies are a subject in themselves. Their nature and works are varied and manifold and it is not proposed to deal with them in any detail in the present work. They may also be referred to as the creative spiritual beings or some such general term.
To understand evolution from a spiritual point of view, it is necessary to develop a flexible and lively imagination. With our modern materialistically directed thinking it is extremely difficult to form the required concepts. Reference will be made to less dense states of the Earth and the expressions 'warmth', 'air' and 'water' will be used, but it must be understood that this warmth, air and water were not such as we experience
on Earth today. They are, nevertheless, related. In the
early conditions to which reference is made, the 'warmth', the 'air' and the 'water' are best described as spiritual prototypes.
Furthermore, it is necessary to consider the picture of evolution given to us by biologists and geologists through reading the signs in the Earth's crust. The difficulty here is that the record of events is not to be disputed but the conclusions may be questioned. Reading the available evidence gives a limited picture but this has to be fitted into a wider, shall we say, a spiritual conception of the world.
For example, we may look at the time factor. Scientists speak glibly of 10 million, 50 million, even 500 million years ago, but one can only speak of time in this sense if the solar system functioned then as it does today. In the past the Earth may not always have revolved on its axis in 24 hours and perhaps it did not move round the Sun in 365 days. These are possibilities to be considered.
It is also assumed that changes have taken place at the same speed as now, but this may not be the case either. By way of illustration we might look at a growing child. Between the ages of 7 and 14 we may observe that it grows at the rate of an average of 2 inches per year. Considering only the limited period of seven years and in the absence of other information, we can assume that in 10 years the child will grow a further 20 inches, in 20 years, 40 inches, etc. Trying to reckon downwards simply leads to absurdity. Similarly one might look upon the evolution of the Earth. The figures might be correct if conditions were the same as now. The question is, 'Were they?'
Heat is a great factor in mobility. We are told that the Earth may cool down. The corollary is that it must have been much hotter in the past so changes may have taken place faster.
Normally we think in terms of a physical universe and consider the heavenly bodies as materially substantial. In a spiritual world conception we must be able to 'think away' the material aspects and look upon the stars and planets and their movements as homes and activities of spiritual beings, or as the expression of a soul-spiritual organism.
The materialistic concept of the solar system is that its members move and are kept in place by mechanical laws. It is an explanation that may or may not be correct since science changes its views on these matters from time to time. The spiritual concept is that these bodies move and keep their stations in accordance with the desires, wishes and workings of spiritual beings. Materially there is always the small question as to how the movement started in the first place. Light might be given on such a matter if we ask why the Earth revolves, i.e. why do we have night and day? The answer might be that the spiritual beings organized this to suit man's needs. By day man lives consciously in the physical world. By night he sleeps, but in sleep his inner being sojourns in the spiritual world and thus a contact is maintained even if he does not remember it.
Besides the in-and-out rhythm of sleeping and waking, the human being has the in-and-out breathing process. As sleeping and waking and night and day have a certain relationship with the Sun, so too does human breathing. The rhythm of breathing in and out 18 times per minute is related to a great cosmic rhythm of the Sun. But if we consider the Earth as a living entity and rhythms as a sign of life, then the Earth too will have a breathing process. Not only is this manifest in the alternation of day and night but in the seasons. There is the strange fact of the so-called inclination of the Earth's axis. If this were perpendicular to the ecliptic, there would be no seasons. But rhythm is essential to life, hence some divine hand made the physical arrangements for an in-and-out breathing in the seasonal changes.
In Volume 1, the development of the human being through the various post-Atlantean civilizations was described, showing how man changed from being divinely led to being self-reliant, with a consciousness of himself as an individual ego in the present epoch. In order to understand evolution we must look back in time at earlier epochs, namely, Atlantis itself and others before it. But that is not all. A start must be made even further back when the Earth and the solar system as we know them today did not exist. A great stretching of the mind will be necessary.
The idea of successive incarnations of human beings is quite familiar. We have to think now of successive incarnations of our solar system.
In Volume 1, Chapter 1, the fourfold being of man has been described and it was mentioned there that this is connected with the fourfold development of the Earth. In the context of this present volume it might be more correct to call it a fourfold development of the solar system, in which the Earth only became an individual entity during the fourth stage. Each stage of creation results in the formation of a major planet which, however, does not become manifest in its present form until the fourth stage when the material world comes into existence.
The Solar System
According to present-day thinking the Sun is the centre of the solar system and the planets revolve around it. Some of the planets have satellites. In the case of the Earth it is the Moon. The regular movements of the planets demonstrate the unity of the solar system and from various observations and experiments — some obvious and some not so obvious — it can be established that there are interacting forces. No one denies the influence of the Sun on the Earth. Less well-known effects are when sunspots appear on the Sun and it seems that these coincide with disturbances in the magnetic field of the Earth. It has also been confirmed that sunspot activity has an effect on human beings.
The Moon also exerts an influence on the Earth. The fact that seeds planted a few days before Full Moon produce a better crop than those planted at other times can be demonstrated; trees that are felled during the waning Moon provide better timber. It is well known that certain psychological symptoms show themselves at certain phases of the Moon. It is not accidental that we have the term 'lunacy' (luna = Moon). The female menstrual cycle is a manifestation of lunar rhythm.
A little more subtle, but nonetheless demonstrable, is the connection between certain planets and plants and even metals. Owing to the different rhythms and positions of the planets there is an ever-changing pattern of mutual interaction. The path of each planet is definite but the relationships are always changing; hence their influence produces a multitude of variations. One might compare the solar system with a great symphony.
Today we speak of Saturn, Sun, Moon, etc. as individual heavenly bodies, but in the context of evolution these terms are used in another sense.
'Saturn', 'Saturn-condition', or even 'Saturn condition of the Earth' refers to the first stage of development of the solar system. 'Sun' or 'Sun-condition', 'Moon', 'Earth', etc. are further stages. There will be a further three in the future. It may avoid confusion if, in this script, the term 'Ancient' is generally used to denote these early stages. Thus we have:
- Ancient Saturn
- Ancient Sun
- Ancient Moon
- Earth (during which stage the Earth as we now know it developed)
To form some sort of picture in the mind of the process involved one might think of a contracting sphere which becomes denser. In the outer zones lie the eventual orbits of the major planets.
At the Saturn stage there was no solar system but Ancient Saturn occupied space in the universe in which the solar system was to function. A contraction took place to the present Jupiter orbit and the resultant sphere formed Ancient Sun. A further contraction to the present Mars orbit resulted in the formation of Ancient Moon. The present planets mark the boundaries of these spheres and represent a concentration point of forces. The actual manifestation as physical orbs is a later development.
At each stage a certain structure is achieved. There is a dissolution into a unified whole, to be followed by a new structure. The direction is towards the formation of individual entities within the whole.
After Ancient Moon came the Earth stage of planetary evolution. The body of which this was composed split
eventually into the present Sun, Earth, Moon and minor planets.
In passing, it might be mentioned that the whole process of planetary and Earth evolution is described in the biblical story of the seven days of creation.
It has already been mentioned that a great stretch of the imagination is necessary to comprehend world evolution. Let us take our minds back to a period when there was neither time nor matter. A flavour of this is to be found in the hymns of the Rig-Veda:
There was not non-existent or existent; there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.
What covered in, and where? and what gave shelter?
Was water there, unfathomed depth of water?
Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal; no sign was there, the day's and night's divider.
That One Thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.
Darkness there was, at first concealed in darkness this
All was undiscriminated chaos.
All that existed then was void and formless; by the great power of warmth was born that unit.
Later we learn about the Gods (Hierarchies) and we can eventually imagine them sitting in council deciding to create mankind. Man is to be their goal. In the activity of creation they further their own evolution.
Next we must think of a space in the cosmos in which the solar system, as the home for mankind, will be formed. The Gods, or higher beings who live in cosmic heights, give of their substance so that something akin to warmth arises in the designated space. Other spiritual beings in the surrounding atmosphere radiate their forces into the warmth substance and thereby certain configurations are produced. By the process of radiation and reflection, forms arise in the warmth substance. This warmth substance itself is of a spiritual nature. In the course of time it will be transformed and worked upon, several times over, and will eventually become man's physical body. But at this stage nothing physical exists as yet. There are no minerals, plants or animals. Only the Hierarchies and the human being exist, and one could say that even the human being only exists as a thought of the Gods. The fashioning of the prototype of a physical body was the first step in material creation.
Developments on Ancient Saturn, as in later stages, took place in cycles and in each cycle and at each stage something new was added. Thus other Hierarchies brought gifts and the spiritual model of the human body was endowed with structure, form and the capacity to move. Through the effect of the beings related to light, to sound, to smell, the nascent human form received the germinal sense organs. We may note the reason for the wisdom incorporated in the human body — a gift of the Gods.
Some of the substance of the Saturn-condition was not irradiated and this provided the first beginnings of the mineral world.
Before the next stage of creation there was a pause, usually designated by the term pralaya. One could compare it with the sleep interval in human life. Then a new activity began.
It is a general law in evolution that before something new is introduced the past must be recapitulated and brought to a higher level. In the Ancient Sun, therefore, the first cycle is a recapitulation of the Saturn-condition brought to a higher level so that the new force or impulse can be incorporated.
We have visualized a certain space in the cosmos being occupied by the first stage of development. Now we must think of a process of contraction, condensation or densification. The warmth turns to air, or gas, or atmosphere. (As already explained, the designation is only approximate since there is still no physical reality.) In the changed conditions certain higher beings endowed the prototype human forms (warmth entities) with a life force, known also as the etheric force. Alternatively it could be said that a certain hierarchy endowed the embryo-physical with an etheric body. The beginnings of the nervous system and the sense organs were also implanted.
In Ancient Sun the situation was then as follows. Besides the Gods with their vision of fourfold man there existed:
- A combination of prototype physical and etheric substance which was the human being at that stage.
- The substance resurrected from the Saturn-condition but not wholly transformed and therefore of no use for further human development. It was the foundation substance of the future mineral world.
Again a dissolving process took place, a cosmic sleep, and another reconstitution in a new form. Following the law of recapitulation, the first two cycles were repetitions of previous stages at a higher level. Now a further densification took place and the substance was no longer air or gas but moisture or liquid (prototype, as mentioned earlier).
At this stage the human-to-be received the astral as a gift from the appropriate hierarchy. A new experience was therefore possible. Man, in a dreamlike state, now had an experience of an outer and an inner world. A breathing process developed.
Here again there were some organisms that did not benefit from the new inflow of forces and were therefore left behind. Thus in the Ancient Moon there were three stages of creation:
Part of the Saturn substance not vitalized=future mineral world
Part of the Saturn substance affected by the etheric of the Sun-condition = future plant world
Vitalized Saturn substance, etherized by the Sun to which has been added astrality = future animal and human world
During the Moon-condition in which Mars, Sun, Earth with its Moon, and the minor planets were still combined, a special event took place. For some of the higher beings to work properly different conditions were essential and accordingly they separated off. Thus two spheres were formed in a way similar to our Sun and Moon. The higher developed beings were able to evolve sufficiently in their own sphere to irradiate the other one so that the requisite development could take place. This mission fulfilled, all were united again before the next world sleep.
Following the Moon-condition and after another cosmic night came the 'Earth' stage of planetary evolution. During this period the greater part of the solar system developed to what it is at present. The formation of our terrestrial globe can be anticipated. Substance became physical. A further important element was added to the human being. He was endowed with the fourth member of his being, the ego.
Again, however, there was a residue. There were some living-feeling entities who were not sufficiently mature to receive the ego. This gave rise to the animal kingdom.
Thus there were now four kingdoms:
Physical + Etheric + Astral + EgoMan
Physical + Etheric + AstralAnimal
Physical + EthericPlant
Again, however, the word prototype must be used. On Earth at this stage these creations did not exist in the form we now know them.
Ancient Moon having dissolved, a new chapter began. The humans-to-be had acquired certain faculties and were to be given even more, but certain preparations were necessary. The physical, etheric and astral bodies had to be further evolved before they would be capable of housing the ego. This preparation required three stages which are, in a sense, recapitulations of Ancient Saturn, Sun and Moon. Conditions must be brought to a higher level.
So far four planetary stages of development have been mentioned, of which Earth is the fourth. There will be a further three, which are merely numbered here:
The early ages of Earth development would be quite unrecognizable compared with the present Earth. There are three such — Polaris, Hyperborea, Lemuria. One could think of the fourth age, Atlantis, as the transition to Earth as we know it. We are now in the fifth and there are two more to come. The fifth age, the present, is usually known as post-Atlantis.
Within each of these great ages there are seven smaller time divisions, which are known as cultural epochs or civilizations.
A schedule of Earth development would look like this:
We are thus at present in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of the fifth age of the fourth planetary evolution. At this stage individualizing forces enter. The guidance from spiritual Hierarchies ceases and humanity has the possibility of furthering its own development by its own efforts.
A short summary of events so far covered might be useful at this point.
The Godhead conceived man as a fourfold being consisting of physical, etheric, astral and ego attributes. The substantial world was created in stages and at each stage man received a 'body' in accord with the world substance. (This 'body' was a prototype which changed with each new development.) Some of the world substance at each stage was not transformed, and formed the basis of the kingdoms of nature.
In the process of world creation there is a gradual materialization or embodiment of divine substance. The various stages might be set out as follows:
Loads of missing content here - see page 95 in pdf.
The Earth Stage of Planetary Development
The idea of recapitulation has already been mentioned and illustrated. It is a recognized law of creation that there is always a form of repetition before anything new can evolve. The Polaris period, then, at the beginning of the Earth development, is a repetition of Ancient Saturn, Hyperborea of Ancient Sun, and Lemuria of Ancient Moon. Thus the new impulse begins in Atlantis. Each of these recapitulated stages means a further development of man in order that he may receive the ego in due course.
From this point we can begin to consider the evolution of what we usually understand as Earth, our present dwelling place, modern Earth.
In the Polaris state the solar system is still a homogeneous unity. There are no planets as we know them, no Sun, Moon or Earth. There is still no physical matter as we understand it. Considering past developments we can say that there is transformed warmth from the Saturn-condition, providing the basis for the physical body of man, and a residue of Saturn warmth, which is a basis for the mineral world. There is life force and something akin to light from the Sun-condition, providing the basis of man's etheric body and the plant world. Thirdly, there is astral substance, which, taken into the human being, gives him the ability to have external and internal experiences, and an astral residue that is the basis for the animal world. Polaris is still wholly soul and spirit and one still has to think of the physical existing only in prototype. One might imagine the substance of Polaris as refined ether surrounded by an astral atmosphere. In this atmosphere are the souls of human beings. The atmosphere and the substance combine, thus taking a step towards physical manifestation. If one takes the picture of a rain cloud which dissolves into drops, one could compare this with the dissolving of the spiritual atmosphere into the particularized human beings.
The spiritual Hierarchies are, of course, still active. In the actual sphere of substance a contraction takes place, or to put it another way, a smaller sphere is formed within the larger, leaving an outer layer which we might think of as under pure Saturn influence. Our present planet Saturn comes into existence as the manifest representation.
Further contractions take place and a further condensation of substance, accompanied by a change in man. It must be remembered that the human being of this age had no rigid form but was pliable and adaptable to circumstances. He lived much more in and from the environment. In the changing circumstances the Earth-warmth and the air-substance are drawn into his 'body'.
Also existing in this sphere are certain beings who have not wholly completed the past stages of their evolution. The environment no longer suits them and they therefore seek new 'homes' in the cosmos. The result is the formation of the planets which we know as Jupiter and Mars.
There are also other higher beings who find that they can no longer exert the desired influence in this denser matter and they leave. Their departure ultimately results in the formation of the present Sun. These beings now influence mankind and the Earth from outside. In order that man shall not become too enmeshed in matter his experience is designed to alternate between the physical and the spiritual. That is to say that a rhythm is established for the soul to be in the body for a certain time and then outside. This is the beginning of the day and night experience. It is one of the reasons why the spiritual beings bring about a movement of the Earth, i.e. it begins to revolve.
The outside planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mars have become independent and take up their own movements. What is left is a sphere that continues to contract and in so doing releases Venus and Mercury as habitations for beings at intermediate stages. Remaining is an Earth-Moon planet on which the forms of life become more and more differentiated. They are still unlike present forms. Man's body has a substantiality almost like air.
In the recommended literature there is much detail to be found concerning both this period and the next (Atlantis) and therefore only a brief sketch of events and developments is given here.
In early Lemuria we still have to think of what might be called a bio-sphere, a fire-mist, an earth-covering, a sort of atmosphere that contained forces of life. Through sedimentation the physical elements were eventually precipitated and formed the Earth's crust. One has the picture almost of the physical elements being formed from the garment of God. In this bio-sphere lived human beings, animals and plant forms but they were not sufficiently physical to leave any trace. Man himself was a creature belonging to the watery element.
There were no seasons. The atmosphere was still thick, the Earth itself still hot, the water thinner than at present and the Earth's crust softer.
Man experienced the world in images, not conceptions. When he met with something that aroused sympathetic feelings within him, he had no concept of the object that had caused this feeling but some sort of picture formed itself in his mind. The living environment in which he lived stimulated him to activity. Mankind's leaders at this period experienced directly the guidance of higher beings and thus influenced and directed the mass of humanity.
In mid-Lemuria the lower strata hardened, and some condensation of the fire-mist took place. Amphibians and reptiles appeared and the forerunners of such plants as our ferns and horsetails.
The process of solidification could have taken place too quickly had not certain beings intervened. To prevent too great and rapid a densification they left the Earth-Moon body, and their departure resulted in the eventual formation of our present Moon. It is significant that the Moon has no atmosphere. It gives the impression of being dead. We might even say that it was still-born. The Pacific, with its ring of volcanoes, is the area from which the Moon departed. After this separation the Earth's crust began to take on the form in which we know it and it is from this time that one can begin to speak of geological formations.
It is interesting to note that the Moon always turns the same face to the Earth; there must be some explanation. It might be that, when the Moon left the Earth it was partly composed of newly formed crust and partly of the Earth's inner core. Possibly there is therefore some mutual attraction — one thinks immediately in the sense of magnetism — between that part of the Moon consisting of the Earth's core and the core of the Earth itself.
When the higher beings left the Earth in order to form the Sun, certain life-giving forces went with them which the future Earth needed for its existence. These forces now came from outside, but the whole Earth needed to be exposed to them periodically. Hence another reason why the Earth had to revolve.
With its thick atmosphere and its sluggish substance it turned slowly at first, but, as the fire-mist condensed and the crust solidified, its speed increased. The rhythm of growth was stimulated.
The movement of the Earth caused currents in the liquid element, and these, moving in, over or through the still plastic solid substance, formed the beginnings of the continents.
The first area to solidify was the Atlantic-Africa region. The Pacific area was very disturbed through the recent expulsion of the Moon. Later, the area between Asia, Africa and Australia became suitable for settlement. The atmosphere was still thick although becoming lighter and clearer. Birds, saurians and lower mammals appeared. Vegetation consisted of palms and similar plants. Animals and plants were much more mobile and could easily adapt to new and changing conditions.
Mankind also was adaptable. Since there was still continual movement in the Earth's crust, human beings had no permanent settlements. Shelters, such as there were, were made of material from the plant world. Man's body was still malleable enough for his soul to have a direct formative effect on it. Thus there could be quite different forms such as giants and dwarfs. Man was much more open to cosmic and atmospheric influences and, in turn, he could influence the forces around him.
It was at this point that the human being made a tremendous step forward in his evolution. The Bible tells us that 'God breathed into Adam the breath of life'. There is a dual interpretation of this. While it is connected with the fact that the human being began to breathe, it must be remembered that the atmosphere around him was imbued with life, that directly at work in it were the divine forces. When he breathed this into his body he was absorbing into himself the divine essence. This essence was what endows every human being with the individual spirit. In other words it is connected with the entrance of the ego which could now descend into those bodies that were sufficiently evolved. The story of Paradise gives an account of the descent of the human spirit to Earth when the form was ready.
The body had to be finely tuned to receive the spirit. Some forms had hardened too quickly and were therefore not suitable. These were the ancestors of the apes. It was a process that had happened at earlier stages — hence the origin of other animals. There were also certain entities who had developed on the same path as humanity, who received the divine spirit but subsequently degenerated.
Man could now form ideas but not preserve them. He had no speech but made sounds in response to his environment. He could name things but had no power of memory and hence no real language. He could communicate by a form of thought-reading, an instinctive communication. He could use his will to lift loads and increase his own strength by an effort of will.
Before Lemuria the human being had reproduced his like from himself through external influences. The fertilizing forces were in his surroundings which, in a sense, he breathed in. Now a change took place. With the departure of the Moon certain forces left the Earth. Some human beings became more attuned to earthly conditions and developed will. Others were less affected and remained more susceptible to cosmic spiritual influences. The body changed with the inner life. Hence the eventual differentiation of the sexes, the development of male and female.
In the course of time earthly forces determined the form of the body and, in a sense, the soul could not pour its whole energy into it. This freed a part of the soul, giving a later possibility for man to become a thinking being. The fact that he had developed the capacity of inner experience and a feeling of independence due to the gift of the ego meant that he had desires. He was now in a position to experience the nature of good and evil as an independent human being. He thus became a true inhabitant of the Earth. From now on he knew the meaning of disease and death. These events are portrayed in the story of the Fall.
It was said earlier that only passing reference would be made to the higher beings, the spiritual Hierarchies. In the context however of what has been put forward here it is necessary to elucidate one point briefly.
Not only man and the Earth are subject to evolution but also higher spiritual beings. They also progress from stage to stage but this process also gives the possibility of falling behind, or even of choosing not to evolve. There exist therefore certain spiritual beings who have not followed a normal course but are retarded. Their influence becomes apparently negative but it is not ultimately so.
Such a retarded being is Lucifer, the fallen Angel, whom we meet in the Garden of Eden as the serpent. Through him man received certain gifts, but with the gifts came difficulties. By overcoming difficulties and hindrances, however, man advances himself and will eventually redeem his apparent adversary.
In this connection it is necessary to understand the mission of the Christ, but these matters lie beyond the scope of the present work.
Since the forces of nature and human will could affect one another improperly, and since, with the advent of the astral, good and evil could be known, it became possible for negative influences to be at work. The result of the improper use of forces was a catastrophe. The most advanced people of Lemuria migrated westwards, to Atlantis. The continent of Lemuria itself disappeared in turbulent eruptions of the Earth's crust.
Where the waters of the Atlantic now roll there was once a huge continent, inhabited by people who had migrated there from Lemuria. The ground here was more stable. Settlements were made in different parts and through developing in different ways a differentiation of humanity into various races resulted.
Although the ground was now firmer, parts of it were still mobile and hence unsuitable for permanent settlement or growth of vegetation. Where it was suitable, the ancestors of our deciduous trees, such as the elm and birch, made their appearance. There were also palms and ferns. The first mammals, the ancestors of most of the animals we know today, appeared during the mid-Atlantis period. At the same time the human form became more rigid. Previous to this the limbs had been more flexible, arms could be extended and physical forces increased by will effort. Now memory developed and, with this, language. By comparison with today, Atlantis man's memory was phenomenal but he had no power of logical thought. He acted on precedent. Only the old were considered capable of judgement on account of all the matters that they had been able to store up in their memory throughout their lives.
The human being had what we should now consider to be magical forces. He could use language effectively, either to create or destroy. He knew how to use the germinal energy of seeds and had strong etheric forces which gave him power over nature. His soul still influenced his body to some extent. He still perceived manifestations of the spiritual world.
As the oldest people had naturally the longest memories they were looked upon as the storehouse of wisdom. Thus ancestor cults developed. The faculty for making comparisons and judgements grew. This could hardly be termed thinking but it was a beginning. As inner activity increased on the one hand, the capacity to influence nature decreased on the other. There was the beginning of a feeling of personality.
Brief mention was made earlier of states of consciousness. It is in Atlantis, the middle period of Earth development, that a beginning of objective consciousness develops, that is to say, a recognition of separation from the world. Only by forming concepts can man memorize, and only thinking separates man from the world.
The leaders in Atlantis were initiates and the people were guided by them although they still had an elementary clairvoyance, but the fact is that a feeling for independence, a beginning of ego-consciousness, was developing.
In Atlantis, as in Lemuria, there were people ready to misuse their power for selfish ends. The atmosphere in Atlantis was dense and cloud-like and its dissolution was brought about by human agency. This is pictured in the story of Noah and the flood. For the first time a rainbow appeared.
The mist gave way to a clear atmosphere, transparent air; the oceans formed or reformed and the Earth became firmer with the result that the speed of its revolutions quickened. It was mentioned in the introduction that measurement of time might have been different in earlier ages. The years, as we know them, and the great cycle of the Platonic Year (25,960 of our years) date only from Atlantis.
A divinely inspired leader, Noah, led the most advanced race into the territory of what is now Europe and Asia to take a new step in the progress of humanity.
Future evolution lies in personal achievement. This means the development of ego-consciousness and the eventual transformation of human beings through their own efforts.