From Anthroposophy

Manicheism is a spiritual stream founded by Mani or Manes, an incarnation of a Bodhisattva of the White Lodge, around the 3th century AD.

It spread quickly from Persian to both Europe and Asia and became an important religious stream, but was then vigorously persecuted and repressed by the Persian and Roman empires and thereby disappeared around the 5th century. When Manicheam movements such as the Cathars arose again in the middle ages, they were again eradicated by the Catholic inquisition.

Manicheism is a future-oriented stream:

  • with the purpose of transmuting evil into good by pure good. It posits the highest level of understanding, empathy and love versus evil which is seen as unfortunate ill-timed good. It is characterized by the duality principle of light and shadow, good and evil, spirit and matter.
  • a stream that prepares for the sixth epoch when Christianity will have come to its full height, preparing an external form of society so that the true Christian life of the sixth epoch can find its place therein. A spiritual current will then exist which does not oppose evil, even though it manifests in the world in its demonic form, in order to draw evil back into the continuing stream of evolution through kindness and communities who foster peace, love and passive resistance.


  • typical aspects
    • purity, in both inner and outer life (re Cathars)
    • dissolving evil through higher good, sacrifice of love (see also Various other aspects subsection)
  • known Manichean personalities and streams
    • Faustus of Mileve, Augustinus
    • the Cathars, a grouping in the twelfth century that strove for purity in their way of life and in moral attitude ('cathar means 'pure one'). In France the Cathars appeared mostly in the area of Languedoc. Especially the castle of Monsegur is well-known, in the area near Narbonne and Carcassonne, it is also near the famous castle of Rennes-le-Chateau.
    • Mar Ammo
  • the Individuality of Manes or Mani
    • Manes is 'a very high messenger of Christ, an individuality still higher and more powerful than Skythianos, than Buddha or than Zarathustra' (who were his pupils) (1909-08-31-GA113)
    • was at the basis of the planning of and creation of the rosecrucian stream (1909-08-31-GA113)
    • in terms of names: also called the ‘Son of the Widow’, Mani described himself as the ‘Paraclete’ - an incarnation of the Holy Spirit promised to mankind by Christ (1904-11-11-GA093). See Discussion area below for the differentiation between Manu and Mani.
    • incarnations:
      • incarnation as Mani (215-276)
      • incarnation as Parsifal in the middle ages
        • note: one lecture mentions Parsifal to be the only incarnation of a high individuality, but 1908-06-25-GA104 mentions multiple incarnations. See also the various references on this page. This has led to questions of interpretation, whether two different Individualities are meant.
  • teachings and written records
    • Although Mani is said to have written six books in Aramaic, only very limited written records are available.
      • The Arzhang or Book of Pictures, was one of the books by Mani, the original Arzhang has been lost and its exact content is unknown.
    • the Cologne Mani Codex (see wikipedia page)
      • is a very small (4.5 × 3.8 cm) papyrus booklet from the 5th century AD with a Greek text describing the life of Mani, the founder of the religion Manichaeism. This copy is most probably a translation into Greek from an older Eastern Aramaic original.
      • showed up via antique dealers in Egypt, and was purchased in 1969 by the Institut für Altertumskunde at the University of Cologne, and studied in the following decades with symposia held in 1984 and 1988.
    • Kephalia: Manichaean text(s), ao from two large papyrus codices containing Coptic translations from 5th-century Roman Egypt.
  • historical eradication by established powers
    • Roman emperor Theodosius I (347-395) issued a decree of death for all Manichaean monks in 382 before declaring Christianity the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire in 391. In 296, the Roman emperor Diocletian decreed all the Manichaean leaders to be burnt alive along with the Manichaean scriptures, whereby many Manichaeans in Europe and North Africa were killed.
    • Persian king Bahram II (unknown-293) had many Manichaeans slaughtered in the year 291.
    • In the middle ages, the Catholic Inquisition persecuted Manichean movements such as the Cathars in South Europe.
      • The Albigensian or Cathar Crusade (1209–1229) initiated by Pope Innocent III and supported by the French crown, eliminated Catharism in Languedoc (Southern France). In an act of genocide (or deliberate organized mass murder), it is estimated that between 200.000 and 1 million people were murdered for reasons of religion and belief. (see also worldview wars).

Various other

  • editor notes:
    • passive loving resistance of pure egotistic evil cannot be contemplated without a deeper understanding of suffering and sacrifice, not as a weakness, but as the creation of something higher (that is: a contribution - through this suffering and sacrifice - to a higher moral ideal on a higher plane or world of consciousness). One can imagine that Man is able to selflessly love that divine ideal more than one's one 'lower' (incarnate) life. However for this, the lower self (which drives and dictates one's deeds today) needs to be left behind.
    • Observe that peaceful passive resistance to oppression can also be seen in the work of Ghandi and Martin Luther King. Ghandi was inspired by Leo Tolstoj.
  • evil
    • the origin of the name Faust and the conception of evil goes back to Augustine's conception of Faust as the representation of the Manichean teaching and the opponent of Christianity.


Lecture coverage and references


on The Manicheans (SWCC)

quote A

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.

quote B

An even more important spiritual current than Rosicrucianism was Manicheism.


In order to bring the things with which we are concerned into connection with one another, we must start from a spiritual tendency which first manifested in about the third century A.D. It is that spiritual movement whose great opponent was St. Augustine, although before he went over to the side of the Catholic Church he was himself an adherent of this faith.

We have to speak about Manicheism, which was founded by a person who called himself Mani and lived about the time of the third century A.D. This movement spread from a part of the world which was then ruled by the kings of the Near East; that is to say, from a region of western Asia Minor. This Mani was the founder of a spiritual movement which although at first only a small sect, became a mighty spiritual current.

The Albigenses, Waldenses and Cathars of the Middle Ages are the continuation of this current, to which also belong the Knights Templar, of whom we shall speak separately, and also - by a remarkable chain of circumstances - the Freemasons. Freemasonry really belongs to this stream, though it is connected with others, for instance with Rosicrucianism.

What outer history has to say about Mani is very simple. It is said that there once lived a merchant in the Near East who was very learned. He compiled four important works: first, Mysteria, secondly, Capitola, thirdly, Evangelium, and lastly Thesaurus. It is further related that at his death he left these writings to his widow who was a Persian. This widow, on her part, left them to a slave whose freedom she had bought and whom she had liberated. That was the said Mani, who then drew his wisdom out of these writings, though he was also initiated into the Mithraic mysteries.

Mani is called the ‘Son of the Widow’, and his followers are called the ‘Sons of the Widow.’ However, Mani described himself as the ‘Paraclete’ the Holy Spirit promised to mankind by Christ. We should understand by this that he saw himself as one incarnation of the Holy Spirit; he did not mean that he was the only one. He explained that the Holy Spirit reincarnated, and that he was one such reincarnation.

The teaching which he proclaimed was opposed in the most vigorous fashion by Augustine after he had gone over to the Catholic Church. Augustine opposed his Catholic views to the Manichean teaching which he saw represented in a personality whom he called Faustus. Faustus is, in Augustine's conception, the opponent of Christianity. Here lies the origin of Goethe's Faust, and of his conception of evil. The name ‘Faust’ goes back to this old Augustinian teaching.

One usually hears it said about Manichean teaching that it is distinguished from western Christianity by its different interpretation of evil. Whereas Catholic Christianity regards evil as an aberration from its divine origin, the defection of originally good spirits from God, Manicheism teaches that evil is just as eternal as good; that there is no resurrection of the body, and that evil, as such, will continue for ever. Evil, therefore, has no beginning, but springs from the same source as good and has no end. If you come to know Manicheism in this form it will seem radically unchristian and quite incomprehensible.

Now we should study the matter thoroughly according to the traditions which are supposed to have originated from Mani himself. An external clue is given us in the Manichean legend; just such a legend as the Temple Legend. All such spiritual currents connected with initiation are expressed exoterically in legends, but the legend of Manicheism is a great cosmic super-sensible legend.

It tells us that at one time the spirits of darkness wanted to take the kingdom of light by storm. They actually reached the borders of the kingdom of light and hoped to conquer it. But they failed to achieve anything. Now they were to be punished — and that is very significant — they were to be punished by the kingdom of light. But in this realm there was nothing which was in any way evil, there was only good. Thus the demons of darkness could only have been punished with something good. So what happened? The spirits of light took a part of their own kingdom and mixed it with the materialised kingdom of darkness. Because there was now a part of the kingdom of light mingled with the kingdom of darkness, a leaven had been introduced into the kingdom of darkness, a ferment which produced a chaotic whirling dance, whereby it received a new element into itself; i.e. death. Therefore, it continually consumes itself and thus carries within itself the germ of its own destruction. It is further related that just because of this, the race of mankind was brought into existence. Primeval man represents just what was sent down from the kingdom of light to mix with the kingdom of darkness and to conquer, through death, what should not have been there; to conquer it within his own being.

The profound thought which 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 into evil, the evil itself is overcome.

Underlying that is the interpretation of evil: What is evil? Nothing but an ill-timed good.


When what is especially good at one time or another strives to be preserved, to become rigid and thus curb the progress of further development, then, without doubt, it becomes evil, because it opposes the good. Let us suppose that the leading powers of the lunar epoch, though perfect in their way and in their activity, were to continue to intermingle with evolution though they ought to have ceased their activity, then they would represent something evil in earth evolution. Thus evil is nothing else than the divine, for, at that other time, what is evil when it comes at the wrong season, was then an expression of what is perfect, what is divine.

We must interpret the Manichean views in this profound sense, that good and evil are fundamentally the same in their origin and in their ending. If you interpret it in this way you will understand what Mani really intended to bring about.

[Son of the Widow]

.. why it was that Mani called himself the ‘Son of the Widow’ and why his followers were called the ‘Sons of the Widow’.

When we turn back to the most ancient times, before our present epoch, the mode in which mankind acquired knowledge was different. You will perceive from my description of the Lemurian and Atlantean epochs that at that time, and to a certain extent up to the present day, all knowledge was influenced by what is above mankind. That Manu who will appear during the Sixth epoch will for the first time be a real brother to his fellow men, whereas all earlier Manus were superhuman, divine beings of a kind. Only now is man becoming ripe enough to have one of his brother men as his Manu, who has passed through all stages with him since the middle of Lemuria.

What is really taking place then, during the evolution of the fifth epoch? This, that the revelation from above, the guidance of the soul from above, is gradually being withdrawn, so that man is left to go his own way and become his own leader.

The soul was always known as the ‘mother’ in all esoteric (mystical) teachings; the instructor was the ‘father’. Father and mother, Osiris and Isis, those are the two forces present in the soul:

  • the instructor, representing the divine which flows directly into man, Osiris, he that is the father;
  • the soul itself, Isis, the one who conceives, receives the divine, the spiritual into itself, she is the mother.

During the fifth epoch, the father withdraws. The soul is widowed. Humanity is thrown back onto itself. It must find the light of truth within its own soul in order to act as its own guide. Everything of a soul nature has always been expressed in terms of the feminine. Therefore the feminine element — which exists only in a germinal state today and will later be fully developed — this self-directing feminine principle which is no longer confronted by the divine fructifier, is called by Mani the ‘Widow’. And therefore he calls himself ‘Son of the Widow’.

Mani is the one who prepares that stage in man's soul development when he will seek for his own soul-spirit light. Everything which comes from Mani is an appeal to man's own spirit light of soul, and at the same time is a definite rebellion against anything which does not come out of man's (own observation of) his soul. Beautiful words have been handed down from Mani and have been the leading theme of his followers at all later times. We hear the words: You must lay aside everything which you have acquired as outer revelation by means of the senses. You must lay aside all things which come to you via outer authority; then you must become ripe to gaze into your own soul.

  • St. Augustine, on the other hand — in a conversation which made him into an opponent of the Manichean Faust — voiced the opinion: ‘I would not accept the teachings of Christ if they were not founded on the authority of the Church’. The Manichean Faust said, however: ‘You should not accept any teaching on authority; we only wish to accept a doctrine in freedom.’ That illustrates the rebellious self-sufficiency of the spirit light which comes to expression so beautifully in the Faust saga.
  • We meet this confrontation also in later sagas in the Middle Ages: on the one hand the Faust saga, on the other, the Luther saga. Luther carries on the principle of authority. Faust, on the other hand, rebels, he puts his faith in the inner spirit light. We have the saga of Luther; he throws the inkwell at the devil's head. What appears to him to be evil he thrusts aside. And on the other hand we have Faust's pact with the devil. A spark from the kingdom of light is sent into the kingdom of darkness, so that when the darkness is penetrated, it redeems itself, evil is overcome by gentleness. If you think of it in this fashion you will see that this Manicheism fits in very well with the interpretation which we have given of evil.

How do we imagine the interworking of good and evil?

We have to explain it as the harmonisation of life with form. How does life change over into form? Through coming up against resistance, through not manifesting all at once in one particular shape.

[Life and Form]

When this form has been created, life overcomes it and passes over into the seed to be reborn as the same life in a fresh form. And so life strides onward from form to form. Life itself is formless and could never perceptibly manifest its vital forces. Everywhere there is the same life which appears in a limited form, spreading and interweaving. The fact that it appears in a limited form is a restriction imposed upon this universal flowing life. There would be no form if life were not restricted, if it were not arrested in its flowing force which radiates in all directions. It is just what remains behind, which, from a higher stage, appears like a fetter; it is just out of this that form evolves in the great cosmos. What comprises life is always set in the framework of a form which was life in an earlier time.


  • For instance, how life in a plant - say a lily - speeds on from form to form. The life in the lily has fashioned, has elaborated, the form of the lily. The life of the lily, for instance, exists in the first lily and progresses to the second, third, fourth and so on.
  • Other example: the Catholic Church. The life which existed in the Catholic Church from St. Augustine until the fifteenth century was the Christian life. The life therein is Christianity. Ever and again this pulsating life emerges anew (the mystics). Where does the form come from? It is no less than the life of the old Roman Empire. What was still alive in the old Roman Empire has frozen into form. What was at first a Republic, then an Empire, what lived in outward appearance as the Roman State, surrendered its life, frozen into form, to the later Christianity; even its capital city, Rome, was previously the capital city of the Roman Empire, and the Roman provincial officers have their continuation in the presbyters and bishops. What was previously life later becomes form for a higher stage of life.
  • Is it not the same with human beings? What is human life? The (manas) fructification from above, implanted into man in mid-Lemurian times, has today become his inner life. The form is what is carried over, as seed, from the Old Moon stage. At that time, in the lunar stage, the life of man consisted of the development of the astral body; now this has become the sheath, the form. Always the life of a former epoch becomes the form of a later epoch.

In the harmonisation of form and life that other problem is expressed too: the problem of good and evil, through the fact that the good of a former epoch is joined to the good of a later epoch, which is fundamentally nothing but a harmonisation of progress with the things which hinder progress. That is what, at the same time, makes material existence possible, makes it possible for things to appear in outward form. It is our human existence on the solid mineral plane: soul life and what remains of the life of an earlier epoch hardened into a restrictive form.

[Essence of Manicheism]

That, too, is the teaching of Manicheism regarding evil. From this point of view: What are Mani's intentions, what is the meaning of his statement that he is the Paraclete, the Spirit, the Son of the Widow?

It means no less than that he intends to prepare for the time in which the men of the sixth Root Race will be guided out of their own being, by their own soul's light, to overcome outward forms and convert them to spirit.

Mani's intention is to create a spiritual current which goes beyond the Rosicrucian current, which leads further than Rosicrucianism. This current of Mani's will flow over to the sixth epoch and has been in preparation since the founding of Christianity. It is just at the time of the sixth epoch that Christianity will be expressed in its most complete form.

The inner Christian life, as such, overcomes every form, it is propagated by external Christianity and lives in all forms of the various confessions. Whoever seeks Christian life will always find it. It creates forms and destroys forms in various religious systems. It does not depend upon a search for conformity in the outward forms in which it is expressed, but it depends upon experiencing the inner life stream which is always current under the surface. What is still waiting to be made is a form for the life of the sixth epoch. That must be created beforehand, it has to be there so that Christian life can be poured into it. This form has to be prepared by human beings who create an Organisation, a form or external form of society, so that the true Christian life of the sixth epoch can find its place therein. And this must derive from the intention which Mani has fostered and the small group whom Mani has prepared. That must be the outer form of Organisation, the congregation in which the spark of Christianity will first be truly kindled.

From this you will be able to conclude that Manicheism will endeavour, first and foremost, to preserve purity in outer life; for its aim is to produce human beings who will provide an adequate vessel in the future. That is why such great stress was laid on absolute purity of mind and of life. The Cathars were a sect which rose like a meteor in the twelfth century. They called themselves Cathars because ‘cathar’ means ‘pure one’. They strove for purity in their way of life and in their moral attitude. They had to seek catharsis (purification) both inwardly and outwardly in order to form a community which would provide a pure vessel. That is what Manicheism was striving for. It was less a question in Manicheism of the cultivation of the inner life — for life will flow onwards through other channels — but rather the cultivation of the external form of life.

[Sixth epoch]

... during the sixth epoch, ood and evil will then contrast very differently from the way that they do today. What will be evident to all mankind in the fifth CoL or round — that the outer physiognomy which each one acquires will directly mirror what karma has made out of him — that will express itself spiritually in the sixth epoch like a prelude to this event. Among those on whom karma has bestowed an excess of evil, it will become particularly evident on a spiritual level. On the one hand there will be human beings possessing mighty inner forces of good, who will be gifted with great love and goodness; but, on the other hand, the opposite will also be seen. Evil will be present as a disposition without any disguise in a great many people, no longer cloaked or hidden from view. The evil ones will extol evil as something of particular worth. A glimmering of this delight in evil and the demonic pertaining to the sixth epoch is already in evidence in certain men of genius. Nietzsche's ‘blonde beast’ for example is a portent of this. The unalloyed evil must be cast out of the stream of world evolution like dross. It will be relegated to the eighth sphere. Today we stand immediately at the threshold of a time when good must consciously come to terms with evil.

The sixth epoch will have the task of drawing evil back into the continuing stream of evolution through kindness. Then a spiritual current will have been born which does not oppose evil, even though it manifests in the world in its demonic form. The consciousness will have been established in the successors to the ‘Sons of the Widow’ that evil must be included again in evolution and be overcome, not by strife, but only through charitableness.

It is the task of the Manichean spiritual stream forcefully to prepare for this. This spiritual stream will not die out, it will make its appearance in many forms. It appears in forms which many can call to mind but which need not be mentioned today. If it were to function merely in the cultivation of an inner mood of soul, this current would not achieve what it should do. It must express itself in the founding of communities which, above all, will look upon peace, love and passive resistance to evil as their standard of behaviour and will seek to spread this view. For they must create a receptacle, a form, for the life which will continue to exist even without their presence.

Now you can understand how it is that Augustine, the leading spirit of the Catholic Church, who developed the form of the Church very precisely in his City of God, who worked out the form for contemporary life, was of necessity the most violent opponent of that kind of form which is preparing for the future. Two polar opposites confront one another, Faust and Augustine: Augustine, who based his work on the Church, on the form belonging to his day, and Faust, who strives to prepare in man a sense for the form of the future.

That is the contrast which developed in the third and fourth centuries A.D. It is still present and finds expression in the struggle of the Catholic Church against the Knights Templars, the Rosicrucians, Albigenses, Cathars and so on. All of them are eliminated from the physical plane, but their inner spirit continues to be active. This contrast manifests again later in modified but still violent form in two currents born out of Western culture, that of Jesuitism (pertaining to Augustine) and that of Freemasonry (Manicheism). Those who lead the battle on the one side are all conscious of what they are doing — they are the Catholics and Jesuits of the higher degrees. Of those, however, who are on the other side, who lead the battle in the spirit of Mani, only very few are conscious; only those at the head of the movement are conscious of it.

Thus Jesuitism (belonging to Augustine) and Freemasonry (Manicheism) confront one another in later centuries. They are the offspring of ancient spiritual currents. That is why you have in both these currents a continuation of the same ceremonies connected with initiation that you find in the old currents. The initiation into Jesuitism has the four degrees: Coadjutores temporales, Scholares, Coadjutores spirituales, Professi. The degrees of initiation in the true occult Freemasonry are similar. The two run parallel to one another but they point in quite different directions.


is about the link between Freemasonry and Manicheism, but there are gaps in the lecture notes

The Freemasonry Masters call themselves ‘Children of the Widow’. Thus the Company of the Masters is directly derived from the Manicheans. I shall still speak about the connection between Manicheism and Freemasonry.


Thus there existed for instance in the Middle Ages the sect of the Manicheans. The secret of the Manicheans was that they realised that in the future there would be two groups of human beings, the good and the bad.

In the Fifth Round there will no longer be a mineral kingdom, but instead a kingdom of evil.

The Manicheans knew this. They therefore made it their task already then so to educate people that later they might become educators of the evil men. Again and again a deeper profundity is seen in the sect of the Manicheans.



Esoteric Christianity is derived from the Manicheans whose founder, Manes, lived on the Earth three hundred years after Jesus the Christ. The essence of Manichean teaching relates to the doctrine of Good and Evil. In ordinary thought, the Good and the Evil are two irreducible qualities, one of which — the Good — must destroy the other — the Evil. To the Manicheans, however, Evil is an integral part of the cosmos, collaborating in its evolution, finally to be absorbed and transfigured by the Good. The great feature of Manicheism is that it studies the function of Evil and of suffering in the world.

[Importance of ideal]

To understand the development of humanity, it must be viewed in its whole range, only so can we see its high ideal. To believe that an ideal is not necessary for action is a great error. A man without ideals is a man without power. The function of an ideal in life is like that of steam in an engine. Steam comprises in a small area a vast expanse of ‘condensed space’ — hence its tremendous power of expansion. The magic power of thought is of the same nature. Let us then rise to the thought of the ideal of humanity as a whole, guided by the thread of its evolution through the epochs of time.

There is a link between ideals and the creation of a new center at a higher level, see Christ Module 7 - Cosmic dimension



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.


The most capable must be chosen and prepared to live beyond the period of the great War of All against All when men will confront those who bear in their countenances the sign of evil; they must be so prepared that as much good force as possible will flow into humanity. It will still be possible for those bodies, which are to a certain extent soft, to be transformed after the War of All against All by the converted souls, by the souls who will still be led to the good in this last epoch. In this way much will be accomplished.

The good would not be so great a good if it were not to grow through the conquest of evil. Love would not be so intense if it had not to become love so great as to be able even to overcome the wickedness in the countenances of evil men.

This is already being prepared for and the pupils are told, “You must not think that evil has no part in the plan of creation. It is there in order that through it may come the greater good.”

Those who are being prepared in their souls by such teachings, so that in the future they will, be able to accomplish this great task of education, are the pupils of the Manichaean School.

The Manichaean teaching is generally misunderstood. When you hear anything or read something about it, you find merely phrases. You may read that the Manichees believed that from the very beginning of the world there have been two principles: good and evil. This is not so, the teaching of the Manichees is what we have just explained. By the name “Manichaeism” should be understood the above teaching and its development in the future, and the pupils who are so led that they can accomplish such a task in future incarnations.

Manes is that exalted individuality, who is repeatedly incarnated on the earth, who is the guiding spirit of those whose task it is to transform evil. When we speak of the great leaders of mankind we must also think of this individuality who has set himself this task. Although at the present day this principle of Manes has had to step very much into the background because there is little understanding for spiritual work, this wonderful and lofty Manichaean principle will win more and more pupils the nearer we approach the understanding of spiritual life.


[link to Rosy Cross]

There is a fourth individuality named in history behind whom for those who have the proper comprehension, much lies hidden - an individuality still higher and more powerful than Skythianos, than Buddha or than Zarathustra. This individuality is Manes, and those who see more in Manichaeism than is usually the case know him to be a very high messenger of Christ.

It is said that a few centuries after Christ had lived on the earth, there was held one of the greatest assemblies of the spiritual world connected with the earth that ever took place, and that there Manes gathered round him three mighty personalities of the fourth century after Christ. In this figurative description a most significant fact in connection with spiritual development is expressed.

Manes called these persons together to consult with them as to the means of reintroducing the wisdom that had lived throughout the changing times of the post Atlantean age and of causing it to unfold more and more gloriously in the future. Who were the personalities brought together by Manes in that memorable assembly? (It should be remembered that such an event can only be witnessed by spiritual sight.) He called together

  • the personality in whom Skythianos lived at that time, and
  • also the physical reflection of the Buddha who had then appeared again, and
  • the erstwhile Zarathustra who was wearing a physical body at that time.

Around Manes was this council, himself in the centre and around him Skythianos, Buddha and Zarathustra. And in that council a plan was agreed upon for causing all the wisdom of the Bodhisattvas of the post-Atlantean time to flow more and more strongly into the future of mankind; and the plan of the future evolution of the civilisations of the earth then decided upon was adhered to and carried over into the European mysteries of the Rosy Cross.


Therefore in the spiritual wisdom of Europe there is a synthesis of all the teachings that have been given to the world through the three great pupils of Manes and by Manes himself. Even though men may not have understood Manes, a time will come when European civilisation will take such form that there will be a feeling for what is connected with the names of Skythianos, Buddha and Zarathustra. They give to mankind the material whose study will teach us to understand Christ, and through them our understanding of Him will grow more and more complete.


Augustine was a herald of the consciousness-soul. He was horrified when he confronted anybody who reminded him that higher development initially begets egoism. Therefore, he combated the Manichean bishop Faustinus of Mileve (4th century A.D.). Similar feelings arose in the contemporaries of Faustus Andrelinos (~1462 - 1518), a friend of Erasmus of Rotterdam, and Johannes Faust (~1480-~1540). These three figures merged into the figure of the Faust of the Central European folklore. Goethe opposed this damnation with the idea of redemption in his Faust.

GA264 - various excerpts

The raising of the young man of Nain (who is also the young man of Sais), the “son of a widow“), as metaphor of the reawakening of the wisdom of the Egyptian epoch by Christ. This young man was one of Jesus’ pupils; his initiation affected in his next incarnation. He became the "great prophet“, namely Mani (216-277), the founder of Manichaeism, in the following incarnation Parzival. Note of E. Pfeiffer: Mani will incarnate in the 21st century and appear as great teacher “if he can find a suitable body”

internet translations from DE version below: Conversations of the Christian Community pastors W. Klein and Emil Bock with Rudolf Steiner in February 1924

The young man at Nain followed Christ as a disciple after his resurrection. He was not one of the twelve.

Question: Is he not mentioned as a disciple of the Christ in apocryphal gospels?

Answer: In the next incarnation he was Manes; the further embodiments are to be recognized by legends, which resemble the Lazarus resurrection.

Conversations of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer with Rudolf Steiner between 1919 and 1921

Mani will not incarnate in this century; he intends to do so in the next century, provided that he finds a suitable body. Ordinary education offers no possibility for the development of Mani, only Waldorf education. When the conditions are given, he will act as a teacher of humanity and take the lead in the fields of art and religion. He will act in the power of the Grail Mysteries and guide people to decide for themselves about good and evil.


Note 1 - Déodat Roché

Déodat Roché (1877-1978) has a remarkable spiritual biography from very young age. He is the most renowed author of reference works on the Cathars and Manicheism/Catharism, which he studied for decades. He also wrote about spiritual science and the future of the slavic people.


  • in 1921 (aged 44) he discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner and wrote him a letter, meeting him in September 1922 for a private conversation that lasted more than an hour (and of which he never disclosed anything). Given the fact he spent his life mission on the Cathars and Manicheism, it is not unlikely that Rudolf Steiner may have given him clues or direction about his life's mission.
  • from the wikipedia page for Roché (interesting link between Manicheism as future stream for Sixth epoch, and Beinsa Douno and Paneurythmy): "From 1956 onwards Roché, Julien and Hannedouche organised annual summer camps for the "Société du souvenir et d'études cathares" at Estagnol in the Rialsès valley in the Hautes-Corbières. It became a place of meeting, exchange, communal life and conferences, with each day starting with a meditation before sunrise. The camps also involved presentations by Roché and Hannedouche (with the former often referring to Steiner and Peter Deunov), music, singing, Paneurhythmy and painting, gathering a large number of people motivated by spiritual research."


See 'Further reading' section below for other contemporary figures who had clear resonance with the cause of Manicheism, Roland van Vliet being an example.

Note 2 - About one day in Montsegur, 16 March 1244

From: Roland van Vliet's book 'Manichaeism, An Early Christian Church', p. 350-352 (quote taken from an internet forum in the public domain)

...For Augustine, as the opponent of the Manichaean truth, love for one's fellow man is subordinate to love of reason: 'The more a friend uses his intelligence, the greater one's love for him.' (272)...This threatens to result in calculating love: only by actions of compassion, may we ourselves count on compassion. (274) ...

By this qualification of love, the radical aspect of the Sermon on the Mount is lost: 'love your enemy', as the Manichaeans wished to profess that radical aspect as the spirit of love of primitive Christianity.

In the Manichaean church the 'nous' was as 'right thought' at the service of bringing to its development that which Christ in his life had already lived out: an all-embracing love for the suffering World-soul in all beings. Mani said expressly that it was a greater blessing for a man to give himself in that all-embracing love of his neighbour, than that he, simply devoting himself to self-realisation - which, in that case, is not the true realisation of love -, withdraws from the world. (278)

[editor: it is an important distinction, but is it not about resolving the dichotomy and that both aspects can only and need to go hand in hand]

A Christian religion of the future can only be a Christianity of love in the unfolding of its basic intention. Love cannot be a captive or a sort of second-hand activity carried out instinctively or as a duty, but it is unconditionally the complete commitmet of the whole personality in a free gift to one's neighbour. Love presupposes freedom, so that the Christianity of freedom can be a Christianity of love.

The Manichaean-Cathar Christian essence wished to prepare this Christianity of Christ in the development of the human race, (but had to experience in times past, because of its premature nature and therefore its maturity before its time, that it was persecuted and stung by the insect of intellectuality), that as a new capacity would offer man greater possibilities to husband the world, while Mani's wisdom wanted to be a herald with a clear voice declaring unselfish, self-sacrificing love: 'For the apostle too sacrifices himself for his church. For that reason too, he calls the church, for its part, love (as) it is written: "There is no greater love than this, that a Man lays down his life for his fellow Man."' (279)

Just as once in the morning, in the period that followed that of the persecuted Manichaeans, on the 16th of March 1244 in the orange red of the dawn, 205 Cathars, grown lean from lack of food, stepped up to the stakes prepared for them at the foot of Montsegur that rose up above them, and from which they had just descended, and sang, to the astonishment of the soldiers, who accompanied them.

They were sacrificing themselves for a future Christian life of freedom and love, in the trust that in a future life, when the laurel tree shall blossom once more, (280) their inquisitors shall also partake of that life.

(272) Augustine, "de Ordine", II, 8.

(274) Augustine, "De Vera Religione" 13.

(278) from "Kephalaia" in A. Adam "Texte zum Manichäismus", Berlin, 1954 (18), p. 37.

(279) "Kephalaia" LXIII, p. 136; as a confirmation of John 15:13 (that someone lays down his life for his friends).

(280) Just as Bélibaste, one of the last 'parfaits' of the Languedoc, prophesised when he was burnt at the stake in Villerouge-Termenes on 24th August, 1321.


  • Mani and Manu: Lievegoed (see references below) seems to assume that the leader between the Atlantean and current Postatlantean epoch, who led a community of people to the Gobi desert and is usally referenced as Manu, is the same Individuality as Mani or Manes. Another, more common interpretation is that a Manu is used by Rudolf Steiner as a generic term for a leader of mankind (which follows from his descriptions). The result is that the relationship between Mani and Manu is not clear.
  • Notes
    • Lievegoed also links manicheism as 'caring for the soul' to curative education (see references below)

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Eugen Roll: 'Mani: der Gesandte des Lichts' (1976)
  • Bernard Lievegoed: The battle for the soul (1994 in EN, 1993 in NL)
  • Roland van Vliet (1960-2016) - see also foundation 'Manisola' (titles below may be different publications of the same books, to be clarified)
    • 'Het Christelijke grondmotief van het Manicheïsme : Theodicee, adoptianisme en dualisme in de Manicheïsche kosmologie, Christologie en ethiek' (1994, Ph.D. thesis Univ. Amsterdam)
    • 'Manicheïsme als het christendom van vrijheid en liefde' (2000 in NL, in FR 2012 as 'Le Manichéisme')
    • Manichaeism as the Wellspring of a Future Christianity (in NL as 'Manicheïsme een toekomstig christendom' (2013), also as 'Het Manicheïsme als christendom van de toekomst')
    • Manichaeism: An Early Christian Church (2021 in EN, in DE 2017 as 'Der Manichäismus: Geschichte und Zukunft einer frühchristlichen Kirche')
    • Gnostischer Adoptianismus in der manichäischen Christologie (2018)
  • A. Boehlig, J. P. Asmussen: Die Gnosis (Gnosticism) - Volume 3: 'Der Manichäismus' (Manichaeism), (1995)
  • Richard Seddon: 'Mani, his life and work : Transforming evil' (1998)
  • Robert Sardello, Robert A. McDermott (editors): 'Mani & Service' (2008)
    • in serie: Classics from the "journal for Anthroposophy"
      • Contents o.a. (selection, not exhaustive)
        • Robert Sardello, "Anthroposophy and the Spiritual Stream of Mani"
        • Andrew Welburn, "Manichean Writings"
        • Déodat Roché, "The Cathars and the Platonists of the School of Chartres"
        • Andrew Welburn, "The Genius of Mani"
        • Cornelius Pietzner, "The Spiritual Heart of Service"
  • Michel Tardieu: Manichaeism (2009)
  • John C. Reeves: Imagining Mani (2011), paper
  • Nicholas J. Baker-Brian: 'Manichaeism: An Ancient Faith Rediscovered' (2011)
  • Christine Gruwez
    • 'Mani and Rudolf Steiner' (Manichaeism, Anthroposophy, and Their Meeting in the Future) (2014)
    • Zeitgenosse werden: Ein manichäischer Übungsweg (2014)
  • Hans van Oort  : 'Mani, de gave van het Licht' (2015)

Cologne Codex

  • The Cologne Mani codex: "Concerning the origin of his body". Transl. by Ron Cameron and Arthur J. Dewey (1979)
  • Johannes van Oort, Gilles Quispel: 'De Keulse Mani Codex' (2005 in NL)


  • Déodat Roché (selected writings, see Discussion area above for more info)
    • Études manichéennes et cathares (1952)
    • Le Catharisme (1947)
    • Le Catharisme, Volumes I and II.
    • L'Église romaine et les Cathares albigeois (1957)
  • Otto Rahn: Kreuzzug gegen den Gral : die Tragödie des Katharismus (1964)
  • John van Schaik:
    • Unde malum - vanwaar het kwaad: Dualisme by manicheeërs en katharen (een vergelijkend onderzoek) (PhD Thesis, 2004)
    • Ik Mani apostel van christus
    • 'De Katharen tussen werkelijkheid en fictie'
  • Andrew Phillip Smith: 'The Lost Teachings of the Cathars: Their Beliefs and Practices (2015)

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