Evil

From Anthroposophy

Evil was allowed into evolutionary current by Divine Providence to strengthen the development of Man, and also came as a consequence or 'price to pay' and the unique development of freedom in Man, a first in the development of spiritual hierarchies.

The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man. The radical transmutating of the most fierce evil by the pure good will bring a special love and condition of moral holiness on Earth (1906-08-29-GA095). See also Manicheism in the Sixth epoch

Evil is the opposite of the good, and these are opposite polarities relative to a reference and 'judgement'. That objective reference is the normal evolutionary development with its intended goals, as per intentions of Creation by the three Logoi and the Cosmic Plan described under Occult Atom. The counterforces that oppose or side-track from the main evolutionary targets are denoted as evil, even if they appear in that cosmic plan and are part of it.

Certain spiritual influences are indeed part of the anticipated and allowed evolution because they offer humanity challenges that re strengthening its development as the tenth spiritual hierarchy 'under development'. That this is relative and not absolute is illustrated by the luciferic influences that represent such a challenge, but also brought Mankind freedom, as an absolute first in evolution. The luciferic influence arose because of certain spiritual beings were (in their own development scheme) 'out of place' versus the overall evolutionary scheme. More specifically for Man: these luciferic beings are pursuing their further development on Earth 'within Man', because they could not achieve this on Old Moon. Therefore on Earth they are somehow 'out of place' and bringing Mankind certain benefits (freedom) but also challenges.

Aspects

Illustrations


Lecture coverage and references

Quotes

Jakob Boehme: 'Evil is allowed by God out of Love'

Out of Love, God has liberated Man to total freedom.

Rudolf Steiner: Whenever you see evil you should look into your own soul and ask yourself: Why am I not yet able to recognize the good in this evil that confronts me? (1909-06-28-GA112 below)

Various lectures

1903-10-13-GA090C is titled 'about the origin of evil'

1903-10-20-GA090C continues 'about good and evil'

1904-08-12-GA090A (p. 102) explains how the secret of evil can only be understood, or lies, at the border of the highest regions of the Spirit World (sixth and seventh regions) and the higher budhi and nirvana planes. (DL translation)

As long as we are in these three lower worlds (physical, astral and spirit worlds), and not in the world of the Budhi plane above, we are not able or entitled to speak about the origins of evil. Within these three lower worlds we have also the evil besides the good, the inperfect besides the perfect. All this is well established and justified there that they belong together. The answer to this question [the origin of evil] belongs to the higher meaning of being, of all life and becoming. This however is not withing reach of understanding when one stays within the three lower worlds. The question remains: Why then is there, in these three lower worlds, the evil and inperfect mixed together with the good and perfect? These three worlds have been created from Nirvana and Budhi planes, and only from that perspective can one see and understand how evil lies as a decision within the larger order of the world that has been created, and sprouts forth from the good. The good is the actual origin of creation, and from this the worlds originate. However how they originate and how this happens, that we cannot know or understand within the three lower worlds.

and continues (p 103) to the link with karma and how all evil ultimately resolves into the good, through the good.

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1907-06-05-GA099 is extremely explicit in the generation of the future evil races

Only by observing this aspect — that the body will be moulded from the soul — will man really transform the human race. Only through a thinking trained in the occult and spiritual sense, will there appear what has been described as the transformation of the heart and the larynx.

What humanity thinks today, that will it be in the future. A humanity that thinks materialistically will produce frightful beings in the future, and a humanity that thinks spiritual thoughts, so works upon and transforms the future organism that beautiful human bodies will proceed from it.

What the materialistic mode of thought brings about has not yet been completed. We have two streams today,

  • a great materialistic one which fills the earth,
  • and the small spiritual stream which is restricted to but few human beings.

Distinguish between soul-evolution and race-evolution. Do not think that if races pass over to a grotesque form that the soul too does the same.

  • All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations,
  • and what is done of a spiritual nature causes the bringing forth of a good race.

Just as mankind has brought forth that which has retrogressed in the animals, plants and minerals, so will a portion split off and represent the evil part of humanity.

And in the body which meanwhile will have grown soft the inner badness of the soul will express itself externally. Just as older conditions which have degenerated to the ape species seem grotesque to us today, so do materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, and will people the earth as evil races. It will lie entirely with humanity as to whether a soul will remain in the bad race or will ascend by spiritual culture to a good race.

1906-08-29-GA095 (SWCC)

But what is inward has to become outward, and man will rise still higher when his karma has worked itself out. With all this something of extraordinary interest is connected. Centuries ago, with the future development of humanity in view, secret orders which set themselves the highest conceivable tasks were established. One such order was the Manichean, of which ordinary scholarship gives a quite false picture. The Manicheans are supposed to have taught that a good and an evil are part of the natural order and have always been in conflict with one another, this having been determined for them by the creation. Here there is a glimmer of the order's real task, but distorted to the point of nonsense.

The individual members of the order were specially trained for their great work. The order knew that some day there will be men in whose karma there is no longer any evil, but that there will also be a race evil by nature, among whom all kinds of evil will be developed to a higher degree than in the most savage animals, for they will practise evil consciously, exquisitely, with the aid of highly developed intellects. The extreme difficulty of the task is that these evil races will not be like bad children in whom there is goodness which can be brought out by precept and example.

Even now the Manichean Order is training its members so that they may be able to transform evil in later generations. The members of the Manichean Order are already learning how to transform quite radically those who by nature are wholly evil. And then the transformed evil will become a quite special good. The power to effect this change will bring about a condition of moral holiness on Earth. But this can be achieved only if the evil has first come into existence; then the power needed to overcome the evil will yield a power that can reach the heights of holiness.

[Mission or task of evil]

A field has to be treated with manure and the manure has to ferment in the soil; similarly, humanity needs the manure of evil in order to attain to the highest holiness. And herein lies the mission of evil. A man's muscles get strong by use; and equally, if good is to rise to the heights of holiness, it must first overcome the evil which opposes it. The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man. Later on, when Man has overcome evil, he can go on to redeem the creatures he has thrust down, and at whose cost he has ascended. That is the purpose of evolution.

1906-08-29-GA095 (SWCC)

The [Manichean] order knew that some day there will be men in whose karma there is no longer any evil, but that there will also be a race evil by nature, among whom all kinds of evil will be developed to a higher degree than in the most savage animals, for they will practise evil consciously, exquisitely, with the aid of highly developed intellects. The extreme difficulty of the task is that these evil races will not be like bad children in whom there is goodness which can be brought out by precept and example.

Even now the Manichean Order is training its members so that they may be able to transform evil in later generations. The members of the Manichean Order are already learning how to transform quite radically those who by nature are wholly evil. And then the transformed evil will become a quite special good. The power to effect this change will bring about a condition of moral holiness on Earth. But this can be achieved only if the evil has first come into existence; then the power needed to overcome the evil will yield a power that can reach the heights of holiness.

[Mission or task of evil]

A field has to be treated with manure and the manure has to ferment in the soil; similarly, humanity needs the manure of evil in order to attain to the highest holiness. And herein lies the mission of evil. A man's muscles get strong by use; and equally, if good is to rise to the heights of holiness, it must first overcome the evil which opposes it. The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man. Later on, when Man has overcome evil, he can go on to redeem the creatures he has thrust down, and at whose cost he has ascended. That is the purpose of evolution.

1906-11/12-GA055 - is the lecture series 'Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death'

out of which: 1906-11-22-GA055 - The origin of evil


1907-01-18-GA068A is called 'the origin of evil'

1908-02-20-GA068A is called 'the origin of evil'

1909-06-28-GA112

In this way we come ever closer to a truth which should be engraved in the human soul as a lofty moral maxim:

When you see something evil in the world, do not say:

Here is evil — that is, imperfection;

ask, rather:

How can I attain to the enlightenment which will show me that on a higher plane this evil is transformed into good by the wisdom of the cosmos? How can I learn to tell myself: Here you see naught but imperfection because you are as yet unable to grasp the perfection of this imperfect thing?

Whenever man sees evil he should look into his own soul and ask himself:

Why am I not yet able to recognize the good in this evil that confronts me?

1915-02 - a fragment from the conversation of Rudolf Steiner with Adelhide Peterson (1878-1966) held in February 1915, as reported in 'Erinnerungen an Rudolf Steiner' (p. 191)

Humanity has entered the stage of its development when evil and lies must become visible.

All this already exists - evil, cruelty, isolation, collapse - all this is, but so far hidden. And it should become clear.

This will be found both in the daily life of the individual - in marriage, family, friendship, and above all in hostility - and in the public life of peoples and nations.

There will be no more obstacles for certain things.

All that comes will survive - without soul, without damage to the soul - only those who can in the external world, and above all in their own soul, distinguish between the essential and the non-essential.

It's very difficult, very difficult... and requires continuous, multi-difficult exercise.

For this is a terrible temptation.

Humanity will have to fight lies - with the original evil!

1917-11-04-GA273 - The Overcoming of Evil

1918-10-26-GA185 - Evil and the Future of Man

1921-09-23-GA207 - Evil and the Power of Thought At the Center of Man's Being

Link with Manicheism

1904-11-11-GA093 on The Manicheans (SWCC)

The profound thought that lies in this is that the kingdom of darkness has to be overcome by the kingdom of light; not by means of punishment, but through mildness; not by resisting evil, but by uniting with it in order to redeem evil as such. Because a part of the light enters evil, the evil itself is overcome. ..

.. a form for the Christian Life of the Sixth epoch must be prepared: number of human beings must be formed into an organization in which the Christianity of the Sixth root race can find its place. This Form or external form of society must spring from a handful of men whom Manes prepares. This is the community that Manes prepares. ..

In this Sixth Root Race, Good and Evil will form a far greater contrast than they do today. What will appear in the Fifth Round for the whole of humanity, i.e., that the physiognomy will be a direct expression for that which karma has created in man, so, in the Sixth root race, Evil will appear, especially in the Spiritual.

  • There will be men who are mighty in Love and Goodness.
  • But Evil will also be there as a mood and a disposition without any covering, within a large number of human beings. They will extol Evil.

.. The task of the Sixth Root Race is to draw Evil again into itself through gentleness. In those who are the followers of the Sons of the Widow there will live the inviolable principle that Evil must be overcome through gentleness. That is the task of the Manichean spiritual stream.

.. It must express itself in the forming of a community which has to spread above all things: Peace, Love, and Non-resistance to Evil. It must create a Form for the Life that is to come later.

Discussion

The problem of Evil

Philosophically, the 'problem' of evil is the question that if God is pure love and good and created everything, then how to explain evil and all the misery in the world. This is presented as a contradiction in deductive logic.

1909-08-31-GA113 (in full in spirhier)

We know that evil does not exist on nirvana budhi plane (ref), but only occurs below. The divine is higher than 'Man's cosmos of Spirit land and below', and is only 'good'. This is important because atheists often pose evil as a key argument against the existence of the divine, because of the contradition with the divine being the absolute good. "How could a God that is pure good create all this evil we see around us, and why?" The answer lies in the luciferic infection and all that followed from it for humanity. The Luciferic beings can be seen as a 'design choice' in our solar system, a well-considered risk and conscious choice related to freedom; it might also just have happened by itself, originating during the Old Sun planetary stage. See Luciferic beings and their influences

The above question of evil is addressed in 1904-08-12-GA090A (see very partial quote above).

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Hans-Werner Schroeder:
    • three articles in 1978-79 in German and in 1979-1980 in English - in PDF: Ahriman and Sorat articles
    • Necessary evil: origins and purpose (1984 in DE as 'Der Mensch und das Bose', 2005 in EN)
  • Bernard Nesfield-Cookson: Michael and the two-horned beast (1998)
  • Christine Gruwez: 'Mani and Rudolf Steiner: Manichaeism, Anthroposophy, and Their Meeting in the Future' (2014)