The 'occult atom' is the title of a lecture by Rudolf Steiner in 1905. We use it here to denote a process, the process whereby the development of humanity is guided by the White Lodge (as representatives of the spiritual guidance of Mankind) on the basis of a Cosmic Plan. The Cosmic Plan is used to lay out developmental targets for humanity in this solar system.
A metaphor image to imagine this can be the organization of the process for experiments in the lab by the lab coordinators. This image is used because once a chemical or biological experiment starts running, it runs or develops all by itself. However the supervisors can and do influence the process, and intervene at certain points to steer or guide the process in a certain way. In a way the farmer does something similar each year, to look after the development of what he wants to harvest.
This process is related to the state transitions that happen during pralaya at budhi and nirvana planes, therefore also see the Golden Chain section (link to be added). The Plan for one Condition of Life (CoL) is the 'occult atom' for the next Condition of Life,
Schema FMC00.057 provides a reference for the process of evolution, see also Three dimensions of evolution
Lecture coverage and references
The first set of references is to show the notion of such a Plan does exist, the second set goes into what it encompasses or how it works, process-wise. Because extremely little information is available, in this case the relevant sections are (exceptionally) copied in full below. Terminology in the excerpts was edited for consistency, see Terminology page for this site.
References to the 'Plan'
1907-10-21-GA101 reference to the Cosmic Plan, specifically:
You all know that the earth is guided in a particular way by the so-called White Lodge in which highly developed human individualities and individualities of a still higher kind are combined. What do they do there? They work; they lead the evolution of the earth; while leading this evolution, they are devising a quite specific plan. It is really the case that during the evolution of each planet, a specific plan is worked out by the guiding powers. While the earth is evolving, plans for the atom for the evolution of Future Jupiter — which succeeds the earth — are drawn up in the so-called White Lodge of the Earth. The plan is worked out in full detail. Therein lies the blessing and salvation of progress — in that it is undertaken in harmony with this plan. This plan for the Earth could only be evolved in the previous planetary condition of our earth, the Old Moon; the guiding beings worked it out in harmony with the whole planetary development through Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon
1905-10-21-GA093 reference to plan, specifically:
The particular plan by which the mineral world will be reshaped exists in the Lodge of the Masters. This plan is already finished; so that if one studies it one can see what is yet to come by way of wonderful buildings, wonderful machines, and so on. In that we can consider the plan of the Masters for the third Earth CoL. What is at first entirely external becomes quite inward, and in the smallest atom we see mirrored the plans of the Masters. These tiny particular plans are nothing else than a piece of the whole plan for humanity.
If one thus considers that the plan of one CoL is the atom of the next CoL, then one can see the pattern of the great universal plan.
The great universal plan develops in continually higher stages, to beings who have continually higher plans for world development. When we contemplate this plan we arrive at the third Logos.
1905-10-27-GA093a reference to plan, specifically:
One can study the atom when one studies the plan of the Adepts Lodge on the Moon.
Implication of the existence of Plan for counterforces
At intervals — by fits and starts, as it were — the luciferic and ahrimanic powers throw the whole weight of their opposition against this right evolution. When we bear in mind that everything is prepared for by the world beyond the earth long before it happens, we shall then not be surprised to find preparations being made to bring the strongest possible forces of opposition against the normal evolution of humanity.
We have already seen how the luciferic and ahrimanic powers poured what they had developed in Atlantean times into Greece and Rome. Now, in an altered form, they have tried to repeat these efforts before the arrival of the fifth post-Atlantean age
... [follows Genghis Khan]
The occult atom 'process'
There is only one lecture that really expands on this, and two other 'mentions':
If we meditate on the atom, what strikes us is that it is a very tiny thing. Everyone knows that this small thing called the atom has never been seen through any kind of microscope, no matter how sophisticated. Yet occult books give descriptions and pictures of the atom.
Where were these pictures obtained? How can one, as an occultist, now know anything about the atom?
Now just imagine it to be possible to make an atom grow continually bigger and bigger until it was as big as the earth; one would then discover a very complicated world. One would perceive many movements, different kinds of phenomena, within this small thing. Keep in mind this analogy of the atom being enlarged to the size of the earth. If it were actually possible to enlarge the atom to that extent, we would be able to observe every single process in it. Only the occultist is in a position to enlarge the atom so much and to contemplate its interior.
Let us next look at the range of human motives on earth, beginning with the lowest human levels of development, with the instincts and passions, rising to moral ideals and religious communities, and so on; we will then see that human beings are, as it were, spinning threads between each other, that weave from person to person, forming continually higher associations: the family, the tribe and further ethnic and political groups, finally religious communities. In this, the activity of higher individualities comes indeed to expression. Such associations have sprung up out of the springs and wells of pure universal wisdom, through a religious founder. All religions agree [in the deeper sense], because they have founders who belong to the great Lodge [of the Masters].
There is a particular White Lodge which has twelve members, of whom seven have a special influence, and this seven indeed founded religious groupings. Such were Buddha, Hermes, Pythagoras, and so on. The great plan for the whole of human evolution has actually been spiritually devised in the White Lodge, which is as old as humanity itself.
A coordinated plan for the guidance of all human progress confronts us here. All other associations are only subordinate branches; even family groupings, etc, are all linked up in the great plan which leads us up to the Lodge of the Masters. There the plan according to which all mankind develops is spun and woven.
Let us follow all that subsequently happens. Now we must first become acquainted with a particular plan, namely the plan for our earth. Let us contemplate the fourth CoL (round) of the earth in which we now are. It is intended to humanise the mineral kingdom. Think how human understanding has already transformed the mineral world, for example, Cologne Cathedral and modern technology. Our humanity has the task of transforming the whole mineral world into a pure work of art. Electricity already points for us into the occult depths of matter.
When, out of his inner being, man has restructured the mineral world, the end of our earth will then have arrived; the earth is then at the end of its physical evolution. The particular plan by which the mineral world will be reshaped exists in the Lodge of the Masters. This plan is already finished; so that if one studies it one can see what is yet to come by way of wonderful buildings, wonderful machines, and so on.
When the earth has reached the end of the physical CoF (globe) the whole earth will have an inner structure, an inner articulation, given to it by man himself, so that it will have become a work of art, as planned by the Masters of the White Lodge. That accomplished, then the whole earth will pass over into its astral state. That is something like when a plant begins to fade; the physical vanishes, everything goes into the astral. In passing into the astral world, the physical gradually contracts, becomes a shrinking kernel encircled by the astral, going over into the Rupa state and then the Arupa state, until it vanishes in a sleeplike condition.
What then is left of the physical?
When the earth has passed over into the Arupa state, there is then still a quite condensed tiny imprint of the whole physical evolution of what was devised in the Masters' plan; like a tiny miniature version of what the mineral earth once was.
That is what goes across [from the physical]; the physical is there only as this tiny miniature version of previous evolution, but the Arupa is large. When it passes over out of the Devachan state, it multiplies itself outwardly into innumerable similar things. And when the earth again passes back into the physical state it is then composed of countless tiny globules, each of which is a print of what the earth previously was. All these globules are however differently arranged, although sharing a common derivation. Thus the new physical Earth of the fifth CoL will consist of innumerable tiny parts, each of which contains the purpose of the mineral world which the Masters have in plan form in their Lodge.
Every atom of the fifth CoL [of earth evolution] will contain the whole plan of the Masters. Today the Masters are working on the atom of the fifth CoL. Everything which precedes, in humanity, is compressed into a result, that is the atom of the fifth CoL.
Therefore, if we examine the atom in its present form and then go back in the Akashic Record, we will then see that today's atom is undergoing a process of growth. It is growing more and more, it is becoming more and more separated [Gap in text] ... and contains the interweaving forces of mankind from the third CoL of evolution. In that we can consider the plan of the Masters for the third Earth CoL. What is at first entirely external becomes quite inward, and in the smallest atom we see mirrored the plans of the Masters. These tiny particular plans are nothing else than a piece of the whole plan for humanity.
If one thus considers that the plan of one CoL is the atom of the next CoL, then one can see the pattern of the great universal plan.
The great universal plan develops in continually higher stages, to beings who have continually higher plans for world development. When we contemplate this plan we arrive at the third Logos. The Logos is thus continually slipping into the atom; first it is outside, and becomes the blueprint for the atom, and then the atom becomes an image of this plan. The occultist simply notes the plan from the Akashic Record for the earlier rounds and so studies the atom.
The Spirit of the Earth is living with the Masters today and this Spirit of the Earth will be the physical clothing of the next planet Future Jupiter. The slightest thing we do will affect the smallest atom of the next planet. This feeling gives us first a full connection with the Lodge of the Masters. …
1905-10-27-GA093a is also where the White Lodge gets introduced in an evolutionary context
In the seventh CoL man will create himself. He will then be able to duplicate, to reproduce himself.
In the seventh CoL everyone will have reached the stage at which our Masters stand today. Then our I will be the bearer of all earthly experiences. To begin with this will be concentrated in the Lodge of the Masters. The higher I then will draw itself together, become atomic and form the atoms of Future Jupiter.
The White Lodge will be looked upon as a unity, an I comprising everything. All human I's and all separateness will be given up and will flow together into the all-comprehensive universal consciousness; great circles, expanded from within, each having a special colour, all assembled together in one single circle. When one thinks of them as laid one upon the other the result is an all-inclusive colour. All the egos are within it, making a whole.
This immense globe, contracted, constitutes the atom. This multiplies itself, creating itself out of itself. These then are the atoms which will form Future Jupiter.
The Moon Adepts formed the atoms of the present-day Earth. One can study the atom when one studies the plan of the Adepts Lodge on the Moon.
1907-10-21-GA101 - see also the quote on White Lodge
You all know that the earth is guided in a particular way by the so-called White Lodge in which highly developed human individualities and individualities of a still higher kind are combined.
What do they do there?
They work; they lead the evolution of the earth; while leading this evolution, they are devising a quite specific plan. It is really the case that during the evolution of each planet, a specific plan is worked out by the guiding powers. While the earth is evolving, plans for the atom for the evolution of Future Jupiter — which succeeds the earth — are drawn up in the so-called White Lodge of the Earth. The plan is worked out in full detail. Therein lies the blessing and salvation of progress — in that it is undertaken in harmony with this plan.
Now, when a planetary evolution comes to its end, thus, when our earth has completed its [present] planetary cycle, then the Masters of Wisdom who harmonise perceptions will be ready with the plan that they have to work out for the Jupiter [cycle]. And now, at the end of such an evolution of planets something very special occurs.
This plan will, through a procedure, be endlessly reduced in size, and endlessly multiplied in number; so that in numerable copies of the whole plan for Future Jupiter are to hand, albeit very much miniaturised. Thus it was on the Old Moon, too: the plan of earth evolution existed there. infinitely multiplied and miniaturised.
And do you know what they are, these miniaturised plans that have been spiritually developed there?
They are the actual atoms which underlie the earth's structure.
And the atoms which will underlie the Future Jupiter planet will also be the plan, reproduced in the smallest possible unit — the plan which is now being worked out in the guiding White Lodge. Only he who is aware of this plan can indeed know what an atom is.
If you want to develop your knowledge of this atom, which underlies the earth, you will then, to explore the atom, encounter precisely those mysteries which come from the great Magi of the world.
Naturally, we can now only speak indicatively about these things, but we can at least give something which will impart a concept of what is involved.
The earth is composed of these, its atoms, in a specific way. Everything that is, yourselves included, is composed of these atoms. Hence you exist in harmony with the whole earth evolution, since you carry in you an infinite number of miniaturised [copies] of the plan for earth which was worked out in the past.
This plan for the earth could only be evolved in the previous planetary condition of our earth, the Old Moon; the guiding beings worked it out in harmony with the whole planetary development through Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon. Now the point in question was to introduce something into this infinite number of atoms which would bring them into the right relationship [with one another], which would arrange them in the right way.
To introduce this was only possible for the guiding spirits of the Moon, if, as I have often already said, they managed the evolution of the Earth according to a very specific plan.
References and further reading