Evolution Module 1 - Foundation

From Anthroposophy

Introduction

The study of evolution from a spiritual scientific perspective is something one should regard from a perspective not of days or months, but of a decade. It is a subject of such complexity that the mind will need years to read, absorb, assimilate, and build a framework of understanding and insight. This is the experience of some of the most well-known anthroposophists, and it is also the starting point for this first study module that follows from such study.

In these modules the aim is to provide a guided pathway that earnest students can rely and fall back on during this long road and very personal journey.

First Module

The first module is about laying the foundation by initializing one's own foundational framework. For this the key to success is to actively engage the mind. In what follows, this is done by not just reading source texts on evolution, but by taking up an active comparison between three main sources, and distilling from those one's own framework. The three sources differ in depth and breath of coverage, and perspectives that are shed light on. The comparison is the core of the study process, and by this the mind is fully engaged in trying to merge perspectives and build an imaginative understanding at a higher level.

Step 1

What

The first step consists of reading and studying three foundational source texts, as listed below. The process consists of

  • [1] reading and making one's own schemas and study notes, separately for each source, in this sequence, and not mixing or going to another source until the one under study is fully digested.
  • [2] One should leave some time in between working the three source texts, and first revisited one's notes whilst browing the source text, reworking and chewing on and rehashing your own materials, so you 'internalize' your own schemas and study notes as a mental framework, knowing how they map to the detail in the original source text.

The key here is to take time and invest your own soul energy into this out of inner fire or intrinsic motivation (see also 'living with questions'). There is just no way to benefit from rushing or trying to speed up or shortcut the process, quite on the contrary.

Source texts

  • GA013-1909 - Outline of Esoteric Science (OES)
    • There is no way around OES as it provides the reference work, the trunk of the tree, the place to start despite its complexity and the fact it can be overwhelming at first.
  • GA011-1904 - Cosmic Memory
    • This text reads very differently and maybe more 'practical', may come across as more approachable and more easily comprehensible. Therefore great value comes from the process of holding GA011 next to GA013
  • GA089-1903 - Consciousness Life and Form (draft of a spiritual cosmology)
    • This is a text written by Rudolf Steiner in the period 1903-1904, and published in GA089 (in 2001, and translated in EN by A.R. Meuss) and GA046 (in 2020). It is documented that Steiner originally conceived to add the chapter on cosmology in his book Theosophy (GA009-1903) (source, see 1925-01-10 notes in last edition of OES, reference in GA046), but in the end he choose not to. However the intention was to publish a follow up to this book quite soon (see reference in lecture 1904-06-09-GA089, but this did not happen and rather GA011 was published from 1904 onwards as 'Aus der Akasha-Chronik' in the magazine Lucifer-Gnosis. For various (documented) reasons, Steiner choose to work on OES as a reference work, and this was published in 1909.
    • This lesser known text is extremely valuable because it adds a third source and perspective to the first two.
Explanatory comments

What you are doing here, is making this your own through a soul process, working the material mentally and emotionally. The physical study notes and schemas are just a practical tool or means, but not the essence of what you are doing. The real value lies in your thought process, not purely intellectual thoughts but thoughts that you try to embody with lively imagination. This does sound abstract when put this way, but by doing it you will automatically glide into the groove.

This site explains in other places how this soul process can also be understood from a spiritial scientific perspective. That is: from an understanding of how one's thinking and feeling actually works, how it relates to the higher planes (eg the layers of the mental world).

See for example:


From all of the above, one will develop an understanding how your own soul-work in the study process contributes to the future, how it provides the seeds for future worlds.

Step 2

Now you have developed your own 'ensouled' foundation, so to speak 'incorporated it into your own soul', and also have some physical tangible elements in your hand in the form of study notes. Time has moved on, months and years fly by, but you have acquired something that will not loose and can build on and, like a sculptor you can mould this, to develop ever deeper insights.

Step 2 consists in putting yourself to the test. Several approaches can be suggested here:

  • the first approach is to try and explain it to yourself or someone else, to reproduce what you have internalized. This is a known study technique that was also explained by Robert Feynman. Rehearsing to yourself (or others) will show you where you hesitate or falter, if you are honest and observant this points you to areas you want to revisit and deepen. However, explaining to others, and using the spoken word to other people and souls, will awaken a quite different experience in yourself and add a dimension to what you have to offer and to tell, to the knowledge you have internalized and the effects of its meaning in the world.
  • the second approach consists of comparing your own understanding and notes to that of others:
    • for example, you can print off the FMC Study Schemas and try to grasp all they contain, holding them against your own schemas and study notes. What you do here is to try and link and map to what eg George O'Neill drew up from his study process.
    • other example, you can study books like Clopper Almon's Study Companion to OES
  • the third approach is the most obvious, it is to enrich what you have developed by continuing the study by reading lectures on the topic of evolution from the many lecture cycles, not just to 'fill in the blanks' but also to see how you can benefit from the additional perspectives they add, including apparent contraditions.

Step 3

Focus on the evolution of nature's kingdoms, and/or the spiritual hierarchies.

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

Discussion

Other Modules

see jump-page for Evolution, eg

  • cosmological patterns and 'technical' aspects of evolution

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Clopper Almon: 'A Study Companion to An outline of esoteric science' (1998)