Sixteen paths of perdition
The 'sixteen paths of perdition' is the term to denote how human beings can err and their development can go astray. At the same time it implies there is a developmental funnel for humanity whereby not all evolve at the same speed.
During the Earth planetary stage of evolution, the evolutionary developmental goal for humanity is to add the Human 'I' principle. This development of the I takes place between the third and the sixth epoch, and during each cultural age mankind has to incorporate a certain evolution and take a step forward. Failure to do so makes that humanity is made up of many different cohorts of souls with a whole range or spectrum of spiritual maturity. In the past, various human races linked to certain earth geographies (and spiritual influences) were a vehicle to accomodate these groups with appropriate circumstances for evolution. At a larger scale, the same principle is used in the solar system evolution where the different planets split off to represent communities for beings at different stages of evolution (examples see aspects of Overview of solar system evolution).
All human souls are thus on a developmental pathway. The fast track is levering the consciousness soul with the process of modern initiation, else the 'whip of karma' and the wheel of reincarnation makes for a slower alternative learning process for the soul and spirit.
An extreme illustration of the soul erring is to succomb to the side tracking influences of evil such as black magic, nevertheless even some of these souls stand a chance - upto a certain point - to be saved and eventually brought back to a normal development in various stages, see Manicheism and more contextual background on the pages for Evil and Eight sphere.
Relating thus to the figure 666 (see also Sorat and Book of Revelation) and the final closure on evil in the development of humanity on our solar system in the sixth CoF and sixth CoL of the Future Venus planetary stage, it can be noted that there are sixteen further cases of the occurence of 666 when considering that the first digit represents the lowest level of CoF instead of the highest (CoC): four on Earth, seven of Future Jupiter, and 5 more on Future Venus before the final 666 (see note  in the Discussion area below).
- a consequence of the above is that the cohort with the highest spiritual maturity is a minority versus the rest of the population. See Discussion note  below. Perspective is given in: Spiritual minority in a materialistic world and Overlapping evolutionary periods
- distinction between soul-evolution and race-evolution: a soul can remain in a lower race or ascend by spiritual culture to a higher race (1907-06-05-GA099)
- Ahasver, or Ahasueris, the Wandering Jew is a related symbol for those who choose not to develop, who are not interested to evolve, see coverage on: The Christ Impulse from the 1st to the 20th century
- various terms used:
- 'eye of a needle' (as a metaphor for a very narrow opening) and an aphorism:
- New Testament, quote Christ Jesus saying "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God".
- Qur'an 7:40, ".. those who deny our verses and are arrogant toward them, the gates of heaven will not be opened for them, nor will they enter paradise until a camel enters into the eye of a needle. "
- the expression occurs several times throughout the Talmud
- the two ways (the right and wrong, white and black, life and death)
- in the Didache: "There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways."
- 'eye of a needle' (as a metaphor for a very narrow opening) and an aphorism:
Matthew 7: 13-14
Enter with narrow gates, because the gates are wide and wide, the path leading to perdition, and many go by them, because the gates are narrow and the narrow path leading to life, and few find them.
You will see from all this that there belongs to the overall balance of the world in which we are embedded a kind of unstable equilibrium ..
If it is to be possible for what is good and right to come about, then it must also be possible to err from what is right ...
To make it possible for the individual to attain to a life of the spirit, the opposite must also exist, namely a corresponding possibility to err ...
Without the one, the other is not possible. Just as you, as a human being, cannot maintain yourself without the firm foundation of the Earth beneath your feet, so it is not possible for the illumination of spiritual life to be pursued without die resistance which must be permitted to exist and which is inevitable for the higher realms of life.
For full lecture reference, see I-organization#1917-01-01-GA174B.
Schema FMC00.420 shows illustrations on the developmental journey for humanity and spiritualization or the re-ascent.
On the left, the famous 12th century icon called 'The ladder of divine ascent' (Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai)
Schema FMC00.420A shows further illustrations of the 'heavenly ladder'.
On the left, the famous St. John Climacus document (1081 AD in Constantinople) possibly originating from the Greek Eikosiphoinissa monastery in Kormista (as per lawsuit of the Greek orthodox church against Princeton University regarding retrieval of ancient documents). In the middle: 'ladder of virtues' mural at the Sucevita Monastery in Moldavia
Schema FMC00.422A sketches a snapshot of resulting outcome of the Development of the I representative for an evolutionary period, but here as an illustration of a quote specifically for the Current Postatlantean epoch.
To relate this for your Individual self and the current and future key incarnations, see also Schema FMC00.052 on Current Postatlantean epoch. Also see related pages such as, but not limited to, Contemporary worldview war and I-less human beings.
Note: the quote about "not all reach the goal etc" is to be found in 1904-10-24-GA090A or also 1904-10-24-GA092.
Schema FMC00.425A provides a tabular overview supplementing Schema FMC00.425 on Evil, as a reference for study. It depicts in a visual way the three levels of 666 in corresponding three shades of read, and maps to the statements from Rudolf Steiner's lectures about the Book of Revelation.
Lecture coverage and references
Man: fragments of forgotten history (1885)
see also the page on the Eight sphere
.. Black magic also gives to its votaries the power of obsessing living men and women. This vile art was at its height during the close of the Atlantean race period, when the everlasting struggle between the black magicians and the Adepts of the Good Law raged most fiercely. Sorcerers and black magicians, the most powerful of those vile fraternities, attain at the conclusion of a great cycle of activity, what is called Avitchi-Nirvana. At the beginning of the next period of activity they commence a nameless life of spiritual wickedness, to be ended only at the next period of rest. The name of these beings of misery and horror, the cursed alike of man and god, is never pronounced or written, but they have nothing to do with the mortals who pass through the seven spheres.
These are the habitants of the eighth sphere, which has sixteen grades. In the first fourteen of these the entity loses, after prolonged periods of suffering, its seven astral and seven spiritual senses. The mysteries of the last two grades are never communicated outside the sanctuary of initiation.
It may be stated, however, that from the last, the entity, having lost the accumulated vile energy of its past, emerges as a new individuality, to begin a new course from the lowest rung of the ladder of life.
Explaining this subject of the so-called personal annihilation our Teacher says :
" At this point the great law begins its work of selection. Matter, found divorced from spirit as far as that possible, is thrown over into the still lower worlds, into the sixth 'gate' or way of re-birth in the vegetable and mineral worlds, and also in the primitive animal forms. From thence matter, ground over in the workshop of Nature, proceeds soulless back to its mother fount, while the egos, purified of their dross, are enabled to resume their progress once more on earth. It is here that the laggard egos perish by the million. It is the solemn moment of the survival of the fittest, the annihilation of the unfit. It is but matter (or material man) which is compelled by its own weight to descend to the very bottom of the 'circle of necessity', to then assume an animal form. Of course the monad never perishes, whatever happens."
To prevent a misunderstanding it is necessary to point out that what the Master says above does not warrant the belief in a retrogression of souls. A human spirit will never inhabit the form of an animal. In its descent through the 'circle of necessity' it loses all trace of humanity, and then the colourless monad begins to reascend through the different grades. ...
see: Spiritual minority in a materialistic world#1907-06-05-GA099
see also Human races
Older races only persist because there are men who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form. .. there is a series of possibilities in the course of evolution for Man to become one with the race, to grow together with what is the character of one race or another. Think of the Atlantean race; souls have gone through it, but not all have passed out of it. There are sixteen possibilities of becoming merged with the race, called the “sixteen paths of perdition.” On these paths man would merge with the material. By striving forward, however, he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages. .. .. it is possible for Man to combine with one incarnation in such a way that he remains behind in evolution. His other soul-brothers are then at a higher stage when he reappears in a new incarnation, while he must then content himself with an inferior incarnation which has been left to him in a 'decadent' (editor: fallen-behind) race. This takes place but need not frighten people for the present phase of evolution. No one is obliged to take all the sixteen paths and thereby fall out of evolution, we must only be aware of the possibility.
What the human being carries in the astral body today in terms of desires and passions has come to expression in the physical body of the various animals. Each of the groups of animals developed a particular instinct, and is “congealed” or solidified in it. During the Lemurian age it was the mammals; they are human passions that have congealed into a rigid form.
What we carry within ourselves presents itself as a picture in the various animals. With human beings, the instincts have been gradually refined and we can hide them in our heart. The lowest instincts of the human being were first to fall into the physical world during eruptions of natural forces in the earlier times of Lemuria. The apes represent, so to speak, the last lower instincts to fall or be pushed into physical matter before the soul of the human being was itself hardened in matter.
There are sixteen groups of human instincts and passions and so too, are there sixteen groups of animals. Zoology will one day understand how these sixteen groups were gradually “precipitated out” of the spiritual world. We can easily say how the various parts of the mammal groups were created. The formation of hoofs, for example, occurred when, in a very special way, animal nature closed off from the outer world. Claws were created through aggression. The hoofed animals express a very different stage of evolution than animals with claws. We see just such a contradiction expressed in the forms of the centaur and the sphinx.
1916-01 - Rays from the Rose Cross
The magazine Rays from the Rose Cross (Jan 1916) also touches on the sixteen paths
at the end of the Lemurian epoch, some were different from the majority, and might be called a Race. There were seven races in the Atlantean epoch, five have been born and two more are due to make their appearance in the Aryan Epoch, and one will be born in the beginning of the New Galilee [the sixth epoch]. With the last of Sixteen Races, mankind will be again united in Love and Brotherhood .. .. there is a great danger that some may become so enmeshed in the race ideal that they fail to proceed to the next higher stage; therefore the Sixteen Races are called the “Sixteen Paths to Destruction" ..
and goes on to explain how the race spirits' took hold of Man's lungs and larynx in the Atlantean epoch.
describes in the synopsis, see FMC00.338 on Development of the I
People who lag behind evolution fill their being with a posionous phantom of formative forces, the source of emptiness of soul, hypochondria, aggressive instincts. If spiritual life is possible, it must also be possible to go astray. .. [as well as] .. examples of failure to find the spirit
for context and full lecture extract, see: Mineral plant like spiders
This is what a true spiritual science tells us today. Yet, such a spiritual science encounters opposition. We are threatened by a conscious will that would exclude us from spirituality and unite us with the spider web of the Earth.
This conscious will dwells in some people, for they believe that it will be to their advantage if they train only themselves spiritually and leave the others to live in ignorance.
In most cases, however, this is done in ignorance; basically, people do not have the remotest idea of the appalling earthly destiny they are approaching by uniting themselves with what an ancient spiritual knowledge called the sixteen paths of human perdition.
 - Considerations on the 'development funnel'
As a consequence of freedom (instead of the direct coupled guidance by the hierarchies), arises the concept of different speeds of development for different entities. Different entities are confronted with different circumstances and make different choices .. and as a result some will lagging vs others. One can consider the concept of a statistical distribution curve to describe the population, and apply this to each of the stages in the sixteen paths of perdition.
When one considers a Gaussian distribution curve for a normal distribution of development in a cohort or population segment, and we assume that the clock or bell of this curve supposedly reaches the developmental goal of a cultural age, then this corresponds to some 68% of the population that goes through this period (more, or less, around the median of the curve). If we use this pattern for say 13 consecutive cultural ages from the last stage of Lemuria to the current fifth cultural age in the Postatlantean epoch, then each consecutive age takes 68% of the previous population that reaches the developmental goal. This small calculation exercise shows that, on a population of eg 2-10 billion people, the cohort that has àlways reached the developmental goal has become as small as 133.000-665.000 people.
Of course this little thought exercise may not have any correspondence to reality, it is just meant as an idea sketch for contemplation.
Perspective is given in: Spiritual minority in a materialistic world and Overlapping evolutionary periods
Thereby Schema FMC00.422 on Spiritual minority in a materialistic world is an illustration of the above population pie chart idea, the comments on the Schema give Rudolf Steiner's commentary to the future of Mankind. Of course this is extremely relevant for each human being individually, as discussed on other topic pages.
Furthermore see also:
- the Book of Revelation that mentions the outcome of the selection process with the symbolic figure of 144.000 explained onD00.004 - Book of Revelation#144.000 as twelve times 12.000: at the end of the sixth epoch, there will be twelve groups of souls that have fully taken everything the third, fourth and fifth epoch could bring in terms of development, so they will have 'developed to the full'. Note again that obviously 144.000 is not a numerical figure but has to be read symbolically.
- the statement about only a third reaching the developmental goal, see D00.004 - Book of Revelation#1904-10-24-GA092, to contemplate the 'Parable of the sower'.
Note  - On the figure 666
The figures 6, 66 and 666 are symbols for various key stages or milestones with regards to evil in the development of humanity in on our solar system evolution.
This is an important topic to study, as Rudolf Steiner provides insight in the various stages of the evolutionary funnel for humanity where mankind has the possibility to err, or to be recovered from evil from further evolution, upto a final stage where this is no longer possible. This final milestone is referenced with 666, the final stage on Future Venus whereby the evil will be cast in the abyss with the unredeemable moon. See also the Fall of Babylon in Rev 17-18 (1909-05-20-GA104A).
However (to our knowledge thus far), Rudolf Steiner never explicited mentioned the Cosmic fractal nature and multiple levels of occurence of 666 in all its possible ways. The intellectual interpretation below is offered only as a support for study and contemplation.
The merit of this work will be - most importantly - an overall appreciation of the gradual process of cleaning of evil in iterative stages, even though it may not be possible to derive or conclude on a exact final and single scheme. Furthermore it also provides a unique opportunity for insight in the threefold nature and redemption of evil (luciferic, ahrimanic, soratic), eg the three monsters that appear in the Book of Revelation.
Rudolf Steiner describes the meaning of these various stages as part of lectures on the Book of Revelation. However this represents a challenge as the various stages are described with references to:
- the Book of Revelation (chapters/verses and symbolic imagery)
- the number of evolution so 6, 66, 666
- and how the above corresponds to the different dimensions of evolution (Conditions of Consciousness, Life and Form, epochs, cultural ages)
- as well as how the figure was coded in ancient mysteries (eg hebrew 400-200-6-60 or 400200660, see 1908-06-29-GA104, 1907-04-22-GA104A)
A study of Rudolf Steiner's coverage shows that different descriptions or interpretations arise or are used in the various lectures. As there is no single simple or consistent description, the challenge becomes to study the differences and come to an understanding of the deeper underlying meaning that may be there.
In summary, the following differences can be observed:
- the figure of evolution can be read as
- [i] - the phases that have passed and are behind us (in other words the figure is N-1 if we are in evolutionary period N, see 1908-06-29-GA104), or as
- [ii] - the actual figure representing the evolutionary period (figure N for period N)
- the three digits can represent different 'levels' in the hierarchical dimensions of evolution (CoC, CoL, CoF, epochs, cultural ages),
- [A] - CoF, epoch and cultural age (1908-06-29-GA104)
- [C] - CoC, CoL, CoF are implied when the final 666 refers to the sixth CoL on Future Venus (sixth CoF and sixth CoL of the sixth Future Venus planetary stage or CoC)
- [B] - furthermore in some places the future Conditions of Life or rounds 5 and 6, pre-runs of Future Jupiter and Future Venus during the Earth evolutionary stage, are described, thereby implying something different as A and C.
- The variants [i]+[ii] and levels [A]+[B]+[C] allow for quite some combinatorial combinations. Therefore Schema FMC00.425 and Schema FMC00.425A on Evil depict this as an aid to navigation, it allows to place or position statements by Rudolf Steiner
- There are sixteen cases of the occurence of 666 (see greyed background) when considering that the first digit represents the lowest level of CoF instead of the highest (CoC): four on Earth, seven of Future Jupiter, and 5 more on Future Venus before the final 666. This may be either a coincidence or a correlation with the sixteen paths of perdition.
- The reunion of Sun and Earth is a key event representing the separation of good and evil, advanced spiritualized humanity and the 'rest'. It is stated that such separation will not only take place in the current round CoL=4 but also will repeat itself again in the next CoL=5 and CoL=6 pre-runs of the Future Jupiter and Future Venus stages (1909-05-20-GA104A).
Note  - The opium war
This note adds two rather long extracts on the opium war, not just the historical wars between England and China between 1839 and 1860 (see wikipedia Opium Wars), but the war that has to be looked at on the timescale of centuries (at least a century, starting 1770 and with implications far beyond 1860).
The case is added here for study, not of the context of how nations go to war as part of the development of cultures or people, and what Rudolf Steiner calls historical necessities (things that just need and will happen as part of the evolution and development of mankind in its long journey).
Rather, this is a very concrete and specific case of how certain forces deliberately used narcotics on the physical plane (using economical trade and politics) to also effect a spiritual agenda, through an impact on the dynamics of incarnating souls, thereby influencing the normal development of cultures (and specifically Central European).
Lecture reference extracts
From the seventeenth century onwards the habit of smoking opium had become widespread in China. Probably it was the Arabs who taught the Chinese how to smoke opium, since before the seventeenth century they had not done so. For those who do it, smoking opium provides a questionable but powerful pleasure. The opium smoker creates for himself the most varied fantasies out of the astral world. In these he lives. It is truly another world, but reached by a purely material path.
When the people who conducted England's trade with China, in the manner described, noticed that the habit, the passion of opium smoking was spreading rapidly among the Chinese, they established vast poppy plantations in Bengal for the production of opium. Those who are familiar with the laws of commerce know that not only does demand stimulate supply, but supply also stimulates demand. Any economist will tell you that if a large amount of some article is put on offer there will soon be a great demand for it. The East India Company was granted the monopoly by England for the export of opium from India to China. And the more opium arrived in China, the more the evil habit spread. From 1772 onwards several thousand chests were imported annually, each to the value of about 4,800 marks.
I have chosen this example for it has a very profound cultural and historical background, if all factors are taken into account. Only consider that, by introducing opium, which works on the soul, you are interfering with the spiritual life of a whole nation or, at least, of those to whom you are supplying it. I can use this example because I have no intention of condemning anyone who wants to trade. Trade is something that must move freely in the world. This is a perfectly justifiable principle. I have no intention of condemning anyone who might grow poppies in Bengal in order to manufacture opium for China and take gold in exchange.
But the Chinese saw their pathetically wasted opium smokers. Opium smokers gradually deteriorate, and after a while it was noticed that the habit was causing the degeneration of wide sections of the Chinese population. When the Chinese noticed this they outlawed the smoking of opium in 1794. They wanted to prevent any more opium from entering the country.
But as is the way with such things, prohibitions do not necessarily prevent trade with the forbidden article. Ways and means are found to carry on trading. So it turned out that despite the formal prohibition, despite the law which forbade the import of opium, the opium trade flourished. There are all sorts of ways, of which bribery is only one. In short, the opium trade flourished and increased from a few thousand chests in 1773 to thirty thousand chests in 1837: that is, over only a few decades. The profits, about thirty million francs a year, flowed into British India.
Once things had got out of hand to this extent, the Chinese could think of no other measure than the confiscation of the opium consignments as they arrived. To Canton, which was the usual destination of the consignments, they sent a capable Chinese — an energetic man, Lin by name, who confiscated the chests as they arrived. The English also had a capable man in their consulate, Captain Elliot, who was very energetic and even succeeded on one occasion in breaking through the Chinese blockade with a warship.
Now there arose the question of how to get out of this fix. Mountains of chests filled with opium were waiting to be dealt with, but the Chinese would not relent. The situation was most awkward. So Elliot, who was in a position to do this, had 20,283 chests signed over to himself personally and then handed them to the Chinese Government. This was the way out for the moment.
However, this did not remove the opium trade from the face of the earth, for in some quarters there was no desire to rid the world of the opium trade. So the Chinese found there was nothing for it but to make new laws once again, very strict laws indeed. Lin decreed that anyone caught trading with opium would be condemned to death by the Chinese courts and that from now on all ships were to be confiscated. Thus the Chinese were now faced with the prospect of the death penalty if they traded with opium.
But the British would not consider the abolition of the opium trade, just because a few people might lose their heads. Instead they said — and I quote — ‘With this demand, the Chinese Government has finally destroyed any sense of security.’ Then they ordered all British nationals living in China to leave, while armed assistance was requested from India. They, so to say, occupied the whole area. The Chinese meanwhile stood quite bravely by their decision to behead anyone caught trading in opium. So it appeared that the opium trade had ceased. Since the Chinese intended to confiscate any British ships carrying opium, there appeared to be no more British ships. What happened was that the opium was loaded in India on to American ships instead! So, just as much — indeed more and more — opium continued to arrive in China on American ships.
So the whole course of events was inexorable and could not have gone any other way. An incisive influence was exercised in a material way on the soul life of a people. Something took place which is connected with the whole process of world evolution. In England people ‘knew’ what it was all about! What did they know? In England people ‘knew’ that England had been ‘surprised’ by China — that is how they put it — and the reason given was that China could not tolerate England's cultivation of opium in India because the Chinese wanted to build up their own cultivation. This is what was said. Everybody ‘knew’ all about this, and another thing they knew was that the Chinese were barbarians! That is what people in England knew at that time. Lord Palmerston said: The protection of poppy cultivation in India must gain ground; it is a matter of protecting poppy cultivation in India; furthermore, the economists in China do not want to allow out of their country the money which should by rights be paid to India. All these were things well ‘known’ and understood in Europe!
War raged; and in war, inevitably, atrocities occur. Atrocities were committed, both by the Chinese and by the English. Whole villages were found in which the women lay in pools of blood in their houses; the Chinese men, having fought bravely, saw that they would have to kill themselves or surrender, so first they killed their wives and children. This war of 1840 was a sad war. Strange rumours began to circulate about Elliot, who had observed it throughout and who actually had it on his conscience. The rumours — perhaps they were true — said that he was inclined to initiate peace negotiations with the Chinese. So he was overthrown. Then — no, not Lloyd George! — a certain Pottinger was given the position of Elliot who had wanted to initiate peace negotiations. The war was to be fought to its bitter end, that is, until the island of Chusan and the cities of Ningpo and Amoy had been taken, until the English had advanced as far as Nanking and until, in 1842, China had become totally demoralized. Hong Kong was made over to England, five ports in China were opened for unlimited opium trade, and British consuls established. In addition to the earlier twenty-five million extorted — I do not quite mean extorted, there is another word which I can't find for the moment — in addition to the earlier twenty-five million extorted from the Chinese, a further demand was now made for ninety-seven and a half million war damages.
As I have said before, I would not dream of interpreting this process as anything other than a historical necessity. I would not dream of accusing anybody. Those who understand necessities of this kind, those who understand how things take place on the physical plane, know that such things are perfectly possible in the normal physical way of world evolution. The profits made from opium are now absorbed into the English national economy, and the English national economy includes a good part of English culture. Just as it would be nonsense to underestimate English culture, so is it also nonsense to doubt the necessity of such events, though perhaps the trifling satirical epilogue to the whole affair might be excluded from that necessity:
When the first instalment of the ninety-seven and a half million war damages was received, certain people came forward claiming they had been the first to have chests of opium confiscated and that the compensation they had received had been minimal. Now, they said, we have seen that our country regards the opium trade with China as legitimate, so we demand full compensation, since we were merely doing something over which our country has since been waging war. The minister whose task it was to decide the matter drew from his pocket a note he had given Captain Elliot at the time, stating that so long as Chinese law forbade the opium trade, the English Government would never agree to pay compensation to anyone who might suffer losses as a result of carrying on this trade. Since this Chinese law was in force at the time, he said, your demand has no foundation because you were contravening this law which was only later nullified by the war.
We need not decide whether this epilogue was also one of the historical necessities. But what is a necessity is that we should look at the facts. When this Anglo-Chinese war started in 1840, mankind stood at the beginning of a time about which we have often spoken. I have mentioned this very year to you as that in which materialism attained its zenith. It is good to understand how such things develop. As I said, just as it would be nonsense to underestimate English culture or English life — English civilization — so would it be nonsense to believe that something of this nature could have been avoided in the overall context of English evolution. It belongs to it. So it is entirely wrong to form any kind of moral judgement about it. If we did, we would be making the mistake of judging whole nations, whole groups in the manner which is only appropriate when we judge individuals. This is the very thing which it is impossible to do.
Yet again and again it is maintained that such a thing is possible. I have just received another pamphlet — there are so many peacemaking pamphlets to be had at the moment — which says: States have their own thinking, feeling and willing, just as do human individuals. Of course this is utter nonsense because you cannot, by analogy, transfer something which has reality on a higher plane to the level of the human being who has his thinking, feeling and willing in the physical sphere. Of course the folk spirits, the folk souls, also have their characteristics, but these are as I have described them in the lecture cycle I mentioned the other day. But to speak of the thinking, feeling and willing of nations is simply nonsense.
There are other cases, also, to which moral yardsticks may not be applied. For instance, it would not occur to anyone to apply a moral yardstick to the building of a house; no one would find one roof less moral than another because of its shape. It is just that this example is more extreme, so it is more obvious that people would not apply moral judgements to such things; in such an extreme case they would be unlikely to let themselves be led astray by moral judgements. In contrast, however, those who want to work on people's souls, which are ever open to such things, choose just this method of decking out with moral reasons things to which, in truth, moral judgements do not apply and which cannot be judged morally, except by hypocrites. That is why I put before you an event which had the capacity of throwing light on certain motives which are at work in human evolution on the physical plane.
It is not permissible to make moral judgements, either positive or negative, about events such as the Opium War I described to you yesterday. Where would a moral judgement lead, even if it were one which might make people consult their consciences? Suppose someone were to say: That was indeed an immoral venture, but now we have put it behind us. This would be one of those judgements intended to lull us to sleep! For thanks to the millions which flowed from Asia to Europe at that time, there exists today, in all its glory, that kingdom which ought to consult its conscience.
To be logical it would then also be necessary, from the same standpoint of conscience, to condemn the present intrigues just as firmly and sharply as one condemns the Opium War! If one did not do so it would be like taking into account, in the case of a house, only the first, second and third floors and the attic, while leaving out what cannot be left out — namely, the ground floor. What was won at that time belongs now to the whole configuration of the British Empire. Perhaps you have heard the example of how much a penny or a centime invested at the time of the birth of Christ at compound interest would have increased by now. This shows you what increase of riches is possible over the years. So if you want to judge the yield of the Opium War you must look at it as a whole. Then you will see that what has grown out of those millions — after all, this has been going on for a century — is something which is preparing to rule the world, to overrun the world; this is what may be found in what was won at that time!
You see, it would be an offence against all truth to consider in isolation a single event which is part of an ongoing evolution. What you can say is that what has since developed is one of the consequences of the Opium War. You can say this quite objectively, without taking up a positive or negative moral stance. It is not permissible to paint over the facts with shades of morality. If we do this today, we are preventing the possibility of any subsequent insight into what is going on now. On karmic and moral grounds we have to presume that, looking back on today's events in the decades or centuries to come, people will condemn with an equal degree of certainty and conviction what is today defended with noble moral patriotism. In the centuries to come, today's events will look very similar.
I said: It behoves those of us who stand for spiritual knowledge to look more deeply into things. So today, since I do not know how much longer it will be possible to speak about such spiritual matters in Europe, I want to draw your attention to something which may serve as an example to help us look more deeply into conditions which are manifested outwardly in what we see on the physical plane. You see, even more than is the case in the sciences which apply to the physical plane, it is necessary to be clear that in spiritual science the facts and the way they relate to one another are not simple at all, but very complicated indeed. I have often stressed the complicated nature of these facts and have begged you to understand that although the general formulae, ideas and laws about the relationships between the different aspects of life which we receive from spiritual science are absolutely correct, nevertheless they are naturally extraordinarily complex in their application to actual cases.
We have often spoken about the time between death and a new birth and of how the human being descends again to the physical world in order to incarnate his soul-and-spirit being into a physical body. So we can realize that whenever we raise our spiritual eye to the spiritual world we always find souls who, with the forces they have gathered between death and their new birth, are preparing to descend into physical bodies. In other words, here down below the possibilities await the creation of those physical bodies, while up above there are the forces in the souls which guide them to these physical bodies.
Now you must consider a number of other things together with what I have just said. You know that one of the objections to the concept of repeated earthly lives is: The human population is increasing all the time, so where do all the souls come from?
I have often replied that this is a superficial objection, for the simple reason that people forget to take into account that this so-called increase in the population of the world has only been observed in very recent centuries. For instance, those scientists who are so very proud of the exactitude of their calculations would be highly embarrassed if one were to question them about the population statistics of the year 1348 when America had not yet been discovered. The objections often mentioned are indeed staggeringly superficial. It is a fact that in some parts of the world the birth rate diminishes while it rises elsewhere, so that the population density varies in different places. This brings about a certain amount of disharmony. It can happen that, in accordance with the conditions prevailing in relation to the incarnation of souls who are living between death and a newbirth, there are certain souls who, as a result of previous incarnations, are inclined to descend to a certain part of the world but that there are too few bodies available there. This can indeed happen.
Furthermore, there is something else that can happen as well, which I would like you to consider in connection with what we have been saying.
Some time ago — and you will see from this that the lectures I have given here in recent weeks have not been without a wider context — I mentioned that John Stuart Mill, and the Russian philosopher and politician Herzen, have both pointed out that in many ways a kind of ‘Chineseness’ is beginning to manifest in Europe, as though Europe were becoming ‘chinesified’. This was no idle remark on my part. If John Stuart Mill, who was a keen observer, considered that many people in his vicinity were beginning to show noticeable Chinese traits, then in certain respects he was quite right.
Consider the following: Souls exist who, as a result of their former lives, are inclined to incarnate in Chinese bodies during the nineteenth century or at the beginning of the twentieth. Now since the Chinese population is nowhere near as great as it was in former times, it is, in any case, not possible for all these Chinese souls to incarnate there. In Europe, on the other hand, the physical population has increased considerably in recent times, and so many souls can be accommodated here who were really destined for incarnation in Chinese bodies. This is one reason why keen observers are beginning to notice that Europe is becoming ‘chinesified’.
But this alone would not have sufficed to prepare Europe for that European karma which was to come about. A helping hand was needed to assist a certain aspect of the great laws of existence. Now if over a long period something is brought about of the kind I mentioned yesterday, namely, that very many bodies in a whole population are caused to become emaciated [editor: very thin and weak], then a situation will arise in which souls who were inclined towards that area will not, after all, incarnate in those bodies.
By bringing about the ‘opiumising’ of Chinese bodies and causing generations to come into being under the influence of opium's forces, it was possible to condemn the Chinese to take in, to a certain extent, some very immature, sub-standard souls, whose qualities I shall not discuss. But those souls who had themselves decided to incarnate in Chinese bodies were thereby prevented from approaching these ‘opiumised’ bodies. They were diverted to Europe where they brought about among the European population those traits which have, meanwhile, been noted by those keen observers I mentioned.
So you see that an event on the physical plane such as the Opium War has a quite definite spiritual background.
In the first instance, its purpose is not to help certain people make millions and grow rich but to prevent certain souls who would have come from the spiritual world round about now, to strengthen the cultural forces of Europe, from incarnating yet, and instead to surreptitiously fill European bodies with Chinese souls. This is really so, however paradoxical it may seem. This momentous event has truly become fact.
In a great many European people a disharmony between soul and body has been brought about in the way I have just described. Such disharmony between soul and body always has the consequence of making it impossible to use the tools of the body properly. This makes it possible, instead, for others to busy themselves with errors and untruths. It would not be so easy to work by means of errors and untruths, if those who see through these errors and untruths were not condemned, by the conventions of their day, to preach in the wilderness.
You see, therefore, that I certainly did not mention what I told you yesterday merely in order to link it in an insulting manner with a particular nation. I mentioned it as an example of how actions by human beings here on the physical plane can bring about far-reaching changes in the spiritual evolution of mankind as a whole. Furthermore, please do not imagine that I told you what I did about the hotbeds of deception, and the manner in which they bring about errors and illusions, simply for my own amusement. Here, too, my intention was to show you much that goes on in our materialistic age. And today I have sought to demonstrate the kind of result one discovers when one observes not only the physical events but also the spiritual background of what human beings bring about. Seen in this way, that Opium War meant the switching of a soul element from a part of the earth to which it belonged — and where it might have been of use, because it would have been united with bodies into which it would have fitted — to another part of the earth where it could become a tool for forces whose designs are by no means necessarily beneficial for mankind.
We must realize, of course, that an ordinary historian will only notice some degree of degeneration in certain strata of the Chinese population resulting from the Opium War. But one who, in addition, observes the spiritual aspects of cultural history will have to look more deeply in order to see what is brought about by this degeneration for the whole of mankind. For only in this fifth post-Atlantean period, which is entirely permeated by materialism, is it possible to observe things in a manner so deeply ahrimanic — a manner which pervades all thinking and all ideas — that if something good or something bad is done to a part of mankind, people really can believe that this will not affect mankind as a whole. Whatever is done in connection with, or by, a part of mankind, will always affect the whole of human evolution because of the way the forces behind the scenes of physical existence arrange things.
Not until the sixth post-Atlantean age will a sense of responsibility become general among mankind so that each individual feels responsible for what he does, not only towards himself but towards mankind as a whole. Today we are surrounded by such a mood of catastrophe because the very opposite of this is the general trend, and from the attitudes prevalent today mankind will prepare to crystallize out the opposite as the right view.
1/ First let's initialize the image to feelingwise connect to the reality that is sketched here. It is not so hard to imagine the impact of what happened in China, human-wise devastating for millions of souls.
The cost to China was enormous. The drug weakened a large percentage of the population (some estimate that 10 percent of the population regularly used opium by the late nineteenth century), and silver began to flow out of the country to pay for the opium. Many of the economic problems China faced later were either directly or indirectly traced to the opium trade.
An article in the NY times of 1989-11-18
At the end of the 19th century, of a population of 300 million Chinese, 90 million were addicted to opium
In terms of scale: Although no clear statistics have easily been found, the figures that have been found are consistent in point to an order of magnitude of several tens of millions people, not 10 but easily 50 million (or more). In any case, the figure will consititure a considerable part of the European population in the 19th century. Because, this took place over a period of multiple generations: if we count generations to be 20-30 years and this opium attack happened over a period of some 100 years then three to five full generations were affected. This multiple may imply we are talking over maybe as much as, order of magnitude, 100 million souls. Research shows that the population of Europe was about 200-250 Mi inhabitants, China maybe 300-400 Mi inhabitants. This is why Rudolf Steiner points to the impact on the development of the culture of a whole region like Central Europe.
Other pages: on wikipedia: History of opium in China
Try to feel yourself into the situation of those dozens of millions of souls who were lying there as useless human beings, wasted, allmost plants, due to opium. We know from our culture and educaton about WW1 and WW2, but here the number of casualties of human beings affected on the soul level was of a similar order of magnitude, if not much greater.
2/ The process explained is also shedding light on the growing drugs problem in the world, and what may be going on under the surface (with reference to FMC00.059)
Further quick exploration shows the number of people using narcotics in in the order of several hundreds of millions worldwide. Other statistics shows a huge growth in the number of deaths due to overdosis, figures like 70 Mi € per year.
3/ If we summarize what Rudolf Steiner says, he states that because the bodies and heritary lines are affected, the carrier or vehicle and mechanism for souls to develop (in certain etheric geographical areas and cultural centers) is affected. That weakens the whole development of that segment of most advanced souls.
So if central Europe was to be the cradle for what is to fructify the next sixth age, then it is no coincidence to see central Europe under so many attacks (just check the World Economic Forum or other sources for the export flows of heroine and cocaine that mainly go to Europe).
Summary statement as Rudolf Steiner explained it, with his literal phrasing but condensed and re-ordered (SWCC)
Actions by human beings here on the physical plane can bring about far-reaching changes in the spiritual evolution of mankind as a whole.
An event on the physical plane such as the Opium War has a quite definite spiritual background. In first instance, its purpose is not to help certain people grow rich but to prevent certain souls who would have come from the spiritual world round about now, to strengthen the cultural forces of Europe, from incarnating yet, and instead to surreptitiously fill European bodies with Chinese souls. This is really so, however paradoxical it may seem. This momentous event has truly become fact.
In a great many European people a disharmony between soul and body has been brought about in the way I have just described. Such disharmony between soul and body always has the consequence of making it impossible to use the tools of the body properly. This makes it possible, instead, for others to busy themselves with errors and untruths. It would not be so easy to work by means of errors and untruths, if those who see through these errors and untruths were not condemned, by the conventions of their day, to preach in the wilderness. [editor: it co-creates or facilitates conditions to allow other actions in European cultures]
If over a long period it is brought that very many bodies in a whole population are caused to become emaciated [editor: very thin and weak], then a situation will arise in which souls who were inclined towards that area will not, after all, incarnate in those bodies.
- By bringing about the ‘opiumising’ of Chinese bodies and causing generations to come into being under the influence of opium's forces, it was possible to condemn the Chinese to take in, to a certain extent, some very immature, sub-standard souls. But those souls who had themselves decided to incarnate in Chinese bodies were thereby prevented from approaching these ‘opiumised’ bodies. They were diverted to Europe where they brought about among the European population those traits which have meanwhile, been noted by observers.
- Souls existed who, as a result of their former lives, were inclined to incarnate in Chinese bodies during the nineteenth century or at the beginning of the twentieth. Now since the Chinese population is nowhere near as great as it was in former times [editor: remarkable statement, current views are the opposite, with population explosion since early 20th century], it is, in any case, not possible for all these Chinese souls to incarnate there. In Europe, on the other hand, the physical population has increased considerably in recent times, and so many souls can be accommodated here who were really destined for incarnation in Chinese bodies.
The Opium War meant the switching of a soul element from a part of the Earth to which it belonged — and where it might have been of use, because it would have been united with bodies into which it would have fitted — to another part of the earth where it could become a tool for forces whose designs are by no means necessarily beneficial for mankind.
- Human races
- Development of the I
- I-less human beings
- Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution
- Eight sphere