Sixth cultural age
The next cultural age after the current fifth anglo-german (timed approx from 1413 to 3570) is called the sixth 'russian' cultural age, timed approx. to the period between the years 3570 and 5070.
- It is the most important cultural age of the current epoch, in which part of humanity will reach the maturity required for the 'epoch sample' that will be the seed material for the next great Sixth epoch (see schema FMC00.169A and FMC00.169, and for a broader context also FMC00.233 and FMC00.168).
- It will be preceded by mighty cataclysms and physical catastrophes.
- In the Book of Revelation, this cultural age maps to the church of Philadelphia ref. 3,7-13
- The developmental target for humanity in this evolutionary period will be to have developed the Spirit-Self, and a special relationship with the lower spirit world, see eg Schema FMC00.047.
- The soul will only be able to develop in the physical body upto the age of 21 (at the start) and 14 years (at the end) of this cultural age (Schema FMC00.232).
- the Kundalini fire will acquire great influence and act as a force on what lives in the human heart (1904-10-28-GA092)
- Geographically the center of cultural development will lie in western asia and the slav(on)ic or russian culture. See FMC00.211 and the according lectures for background on how this center moves across earth's geography along with the developmental stage of humanity.
Culture, science, and spirituality
- this sixth cultural age which will be radically different and as spiritual as our current fifth has been material.
- the individuality known as Jeshu ben Pandira will rise from Bodhisattva to a Buddha and be the teacher of Christianity in a totally new way (1911-12-03-GA130 below, for more see 1911-11-04-GA123 on the Bodhisattva page)
- this age will know the true Christianity (not the one of the current or past cultural ages), centered around the sacred Golden Triangle (or Higher triad, consisting of Spirit-Man, Spirit-Self or atma, buddhi and manas) and the knowledge of reincarnation and karma, united with Christianity (again). A symbol will no longer be the crucified Son of God, but the cross encircled by roses (re Symbol of rose cross).
- Mechanical science will become spiritually creative.
Lecture coverage and references
At the beginning of the sixth epoch an influence will have developed, not in higher spheres, but in the sphere of the present-day conscious mind; in the fifth epoch this influence is still in its infancy, but it is nevertheless already developing. It is something which emanates from the musical element. For the fifth epoch music will be not merely art, but the means of expression for quite other things than the purely artistic. Here is something that points to the influence of a specific principle on the physical plane. The most significant impulse by those directly initiated in the fifth epoch will, to begin with, be given solely in the sphere of music. What has to flow in is not astral, but it is something of great significance in the sphere of the mental life of the fifth epoch. It is something that the human intelligence will come to recognise as important, something which has been called the Kundalini fire. It is a force which today still slumbers in man, but which will gradually gain more and more importance. Today it already has a great importance upon what we perceive through the sense of hearing. During the further development in the sixth cultural age of the fifth epoch the Kundalini fire will acquire great influence on what lives in the human heart. The human heart will really have this fire. At first this seems to be mere symbolism but man will then really be permeated by a force which will live in his heart, so that during the sixth epoch he will no longer make a distinction between his own well-being and the well-being of the whole. So deeply will man be permeated by the Kundalini fire! He will follow the principle of love as his own innermost nature.
Note: the expression ‘Kundalini fire’ is used by Rudolf Steiner in the first edition of his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. In later editions he replaced the term by another term which is translated in the 1937 English edition as “the spiritual perceptive force in the organ of the heart”.
From 1904-11-04-GA093 we mention (for more expanded quote and additional background, see topic of the Molten Sea)
To begin with, Christianity is bound up with the purely materialistic culture of the fourth and fifth ages, and the true Christianity of the future, which possesses the secret of the Molten Sea and the Golden Triangle, only exists secretly. This Christianity has another symbol — no longer that of the crucified Son of God, but the Cross encircled by roses.
This will become the symbol of the new Christianity of the sixth Postatlantean cultural age. Out of the Mystery of the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross will arise the Christianity of the sixth cultural age, which will recognise the significance of the Molten Sea and the Golden Triangle.
The Molten Sea is what is created when the appropriate amounts of water and molten metal are cast. The three apprentices do it wrongly, and the casting is destroyed, but when the mysteries of fire are revealed to Hiram by Tubal-Cain, he is thereby enabled to unite water and fire in the proper way. This brings the Molten Sea into being. This is what the secret of the Rosicrucians is. It is brought about when the water of calm wisdom is united with the fire of the astral world, with the fire of passion and desire.
A union must be brought about which is ‘of bronze’, that is to say, is lasting and durable. It must endure into the next epoch, when the secret of the sacred Golden Triangle is added to it; the secret of Atma, Buddhi and Manas. This Triangle, with all which it entails, will form the content of the renewed Christianity of the sixth cultural age. That is being prepared by the Rosicrucians and then
what is symbolised by the Molten Sea will be united with a knowledge of reincarnation and karma. That is the new occult teaching which will be united again with Christianity. The higher self of man, composed of Atma, Buddhi and Manas, will become an open secret when the man of the sixth epoch has become ripe enough to receive it.
Our fifth cultural age will be followed by another sixth age that will see the development of brotherhood among men, clairvoyance and creative power.
What will Christianity be in the sixth cultural age? To the priest in the Mysteries before Christ, there was harmony between science and faith. Science and faith were one and the same. When he looked up to the heavens, the priest knew that the soul was a drop of water from the celestial ocean, led down to Earth by the great streams of life flowing through space. Now that the attention of men is wholly directed to the physical world, faith has need of a refuge, of religion. Hence the separation between science and faith. Faith in the Person of Christ, of the God-Man on Earth has temporarily replaced Occult Science and the Mysteries of antiquity. But in the sixth age, these two streams will again unite.
Mechanical science will become spiritually creative. This will be Gnosis-spiritual consciousness.
This sixth cultural age which will be radically different from our own, will be preceded by mighty cataclysms. It will be as spiritual as ours has been material. But the transformation can only be brought about by physical catastrophes.
It is already possible now to begin to discover the thread that will bind the two sides of the human breast - material culture and life in the spiritual world - together again.
- On the one hand, this requires that we understand the results of spiritual perception;
- on the other, that we recognize the manifestations of the spirit in our observations of and experiences in the world of the senses.
The sixth cultural epoch will fully develop the harmony between these two things.
Our age will be followed by one in which the need for love will cast its light. Love in the sixth cultural age will show itself in a very different form - different even from that which can be called Christian love. Slowly we draw nearer to that age; and by making those in the Anthroposophical Movement familiar with the mysteries of the cosmos, with the nature of the various individualities both on the physical plane and on the higher planes, we try to kindle love for everything in existence. This is not done so much by talking of love, as by feeling that what is able to kindle love in the soul is prepared for the sixth age by Anthroposophy. Through Anthroposophy the forces of love are specially aroused in the whole human soul, and that is prepared which a man needs for gradually acquiring a true understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. For it is indeed true that the Mystery of Golgotha came to pass; and the Gospels have evoked something which yesterday was likened to how children learn to speak. But the deepest lesson - the mission of earthly love in its connection with the Mystery of Golgotha - has not yet been grasped. Full understanding of this will be possible only in the sixth Postatlantean cultural age, when people grow to realise more and more that the foundations for it are actually within them, and out of their innermost being - in other words, out of love - do what should be done. Then the guidance of the Commandments will have been outlived and the stage reached that is described in Goethe's words: “Duty — when one loves the commands one gives to oneself.”
When forces wake in our souls which impel us to do what we should through love alone, we then discover in us something that must gradually become widespread in the sixth cultural age.
Then in a man's nature quite special forces of the etheric body will make themselves known.
To understand what it is that must come about increasingly in this way, we have to consider it from two sides.
- One side has certainly not come yet and is only dreamt of by the most advanced in spirit; it is a well-defined relation between custom, morals, ethics and the understanding, intellectuality. Today a man may be to a certain extent a rascal, yet at the same time intelligent and clever. He may even use his very cleverness to further his knavery. At present it is not required of people to combine their intelligence with an equal degree of morality. To all that we have been anticipating for the future this must be added - that as we advance, it will no longer be possible for these two qualities of the human soul to be kept apart, or to exist in unequal measure. A man who, according to the reckoning-up of his previous incarnation, has become particularly intelligent without being moral, will in his new incarnation possess only a stunted intelligence. Thus, to have equal amounts of intelligence and morality in future incarnations he will be obliged, as a consequence of universal cosmic law, to enter his new incarnation with an intelligence that is crippled, so that immorality and stupidity coincide. For immorality has a crippling effect upon intelligence. In other words, we are approaching the age when morality and what has now been described for the sixth Postatlantean age as the shining into the I-soul of the love-forces of the etheric body, point essentially to forces having to do with harmonising those of intelligence and morality. That is the one side to be considered.
- The other side is that it is solely through harmony of this kind, between morality, custom, and intelligence, that the whole depth of the Mystery of Golgotha is to be grasped.
- This will come about only through the individuality who before Christ-Jesus came to earth prepared men for that Mystery, developing in his successive incarnations ever greater powers as teacher of the greatest of all earthly events. This individuality, whom in his rank as Bodhisatva we call the successor of Gautama Buddha, was incarnated in the personality living about a hundred years before Christ under the name of Jeshu ben Pandira. Among his many students was one who had at that time already, in a certain sense, written down a prophetic version of the Matthew Gospel, and this, after the Mystery of Golgotha had been enacted, needed only to be given a new form.
- There have been, and will continue to be, frequent incorporations of the individuality who appeared as Jeshu ben Pandira, until he rises from the rank of Bodhisatva to that of Buddha. According to our reckoning of time this will be in about 3,000 years, when a sufficient number of people will possess the above-mentioned faculties, and when, in the course of a remarkable incarnation of the individual who was once Jeshu ben Pandira, this great teacher of mankind will have become able to act as interpreter of the Mystery of Golgotha in a very different way from what is possible today. It is true that even today a seer into the supersensible worlds can gain some idea of what is to happen then; but the ordinary earthly organisation of man cannot yet provide a physical body capable of doing what that teacher will be able to do approximately 3,000 years hence. There is, as yet, no human language through which verbal teaching could exert the magical effects that will spring from the words of that great teacher of humanity. His words will flow directly to men's hearts, into their souls, like a healing medicine; nothing in those words will be merely theoretical. At the same time the teaching will contain - to an extent far greater than it is possible to conceive today - a magical moral force carrying to hearts and souls a full conviction of the eternal, deeply significant brotherhood of intellect and morality.
- This great teacher, who will be able to give to men ripe for it the profoundest instruction concerning the nature of the Mystery of Golgotha, will fulfil what Oriental prophets have always said — that the true successor of Buddha would be, for all mankind, the greatest teacher of the good. For that reason he has been called in oriental tradition the Maitreya Buddha. His task will be to enlighten human beings concerning the Mystery of Golgotha, and for this he will draw ideas and words of the deepest significance from the very language he will use. No human language today can evoke any conception of it. His words will imprint into men's souls directly, magically, the nature of the Mystery of Golgotha. Hence in this connection also we are approaching what we may call the future moral age of man; in a certain sense we could designate it as a coming Golden Age.
Even today, however, speaking from the ground of Anthroposophy, we point in full consciousness to what is destined to come about — how the Christ will gradually reveal Himself to ever-higher powers in human beings, and how the teachers, who up to now have taught only individual peoples and individual men, will become the interpreters of the great Christ-event for all who are willing to listen. And we can point out how, through the dawning of the age of love, conditions for the age of morality are prepared.
1915-02-13-GA174B is an important lecture to read in full, because it puts in a broad context the quote below (often dragged out of context, by only a few phrases translated - see extracts below), and the impulse between the fifth and sixth cultural age (with reference to the significance of the 40 years war between 1914-44).
The task of the future sixth cultural age will be to grasp the spirit again in the environment of the physical, more in the elemental world. The transition to this cannot take place without a violent struggle between white and coloured mankind in many regions, which will be foreshadowed in earlier events. We stand here before something colossal.
These things cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle.
White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the period when the spirit was kept away from the body, when the spirit could only be sought outside of the physical human being.
But the result will have to be that [mankind’s next step upwards] cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas. And world history will consist of the events that will lead to these battles between white and colored mankind until the great fight between white and colored mankind has been brought about. Future events are frequently reflected in previous events. You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science, we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.
or in German:
In der sechsten Kulturepoche der nachatlantischen Zeit wird die Aufgabe die sein, den Geist vor allen Dingen als etwas sozusagen mehr in der Umgebung Schwebendes zu erkennen als unmittelbar in sich, den Geist mehr in der elementaren Welt anzuerkennen, weil diese sechste Kulturepoche die Aufgabe hat, die Erkenntnis des Geistes in der physischen Umgebung vorzubereiten. Das kann nicht so ohne weiteres erreicht werden, wenn nicht alte atavistische Kräfte aufgespart werden, die den Geist in seinem rein elementarischen Leben anerkennen.
Aber ohne die heftigsten Kämpfe gehen diese Dinge in der Welt nicht ab.
- Die weiße Menschheit ist noch auf dem Weg, immer tiefer und tiefer den Geist in das eigene Wesen aufzunehmen.
- Die gelbe Menschheit ist auf dem Wege, zu konservieren jene Zeitalter, in denen der Geist ferne gehalten wird vom Leibe, in denen der Geist gesucht wird außerhalb der menschlich-physischen Organisation, bloß dort.
Das aber muß dazu führen, daß der Übergang von der fünften Kulturepoche in die sechste Kulturepoche sich nicht anders abspielen kann denn als ein heftiger Kampf der weißen Menschheit mit der farbigen Menschheit auf den mannigfaltigsten Gebieten. Und was diesen Kämpfen vorangeht, die sich abspielen werden zwischen der weißen und der farbigen Menschheit, das wird die Weltgeschichte beschäftigen bis zu der Austragung der großen Kämpfe zwischen der weißen und der farbigen Menschheit. Die zukünftigen Ereignisse spiegeln sich vielfach in vorhergehenden Ereignissen. Wir stehen nämlich, wenn wir dasjenige, was wir durch die verschiedensten Betrachtungen uns angeeignet haben, im geisteswissenschaftlichen Sinn ansehen, vor etwas Kolossalem, das wir in der Zukunft als notwendig sich abspielend erschauen können.
Da haben wir
- auf der einen Seite einen Teil der Menschheit mit der Mission, den Geist in das physische Leben so hereinzuführen, daß der Geist alles einzelne im physischen Leben durchdringe.
- Und auf der anderen Seite haben wir einen Teil der Menschheit mit der Notwendigkeit, gewissermaßen die absteigende Entwickelung nun zu übernehmen.
Das kann nicht anders geschehen, als wenn dasjenige, was wirklich sich bekennt zur Durchdringung des Leiblichen mit dem Geistigen, Kulturimpulse hervorbringt, lebendige Impulse hervorbringt, die für die Erde bleibend sind, die von der Erde nicht wieder verschwinden können.
Was wird man unter der sechsten Kulturepoche zu verstehen haben?
Man wird darunter eine Kulturepoche zu verstehen haben, innerhalb welcher ein großer Teil der östlichen Menschen ihr Menschentum demjenigen zum Opfer gebracht haben wird, was in der Volkskultur errungen worden ist, indem gleichsam wie ein Weibliches das östliche sich wird haben befruchten lassen von dem männlichen Westlichen. Dasjenige, was leben wird in den Seelen der sechsten Kulturepoche, wird dasselbe sein, was von den Seelen der fünften Kulturepoche errungen worden ist. Das bedingt, daß von Osten her das Unreife und noch nicht Gereifte sich walzt, sich wehrt gegen dasjenige, was ja doch geschehen muß. Genau ebenso, wie das Griechisch-Römische sich einmal zu wehren hatte gegen das Germanische, so muß sich das Slawische gegen das Germanische wehren; aber genau ebenso wie beim Übergang vom Griechisch-Römischen zum Germanischen in der aufsteigenden Entwickelung, so bei dem Übergang vom Germanischen ins Slawische in der absteigenden.
Within the womb, as it were, of the ancient Indian epoch, that of ancient Persia was prepared; within the ancient Persian culture, that of the Egypto-Chaldean epoch was prepared, and so on. Our fifth post-Atlantean epoch must prepare the coming sixth epoch of culture.
Our task in spiritual science is not only to acquire spiritual treasure for ourselves, for the eternal life of the soul, but to prepare what will constitute the content, the specific external work of the sixth epoch of culture. Thus it has been in each of the post-Atlantean epochs. The centers of the mysteries were the places in which the form of external life belonging to the next epoch of culture was prepared. The mysteries were associations of human beings among whom other things were cultivated than those cultivated in the outer world. The ancient Indian epoch was concerned with the cultivation of the human etheric body, the ancient Persian epoch with the cultivation of the astral body, the Egypto-Chaldean with that of the sentient soul, the Greco-Latin with that of the intellectual or mind soul. Our own epoch, throughout its duration, will develop and unfold the consciousness or spiritual soul. But what will give to external culture in the sixth epoch its content and character, must be prepared in advance. Many characteristics of the sixth epoch of culture will be entirely different from those of our age. Three characteristic traits can be mentioned, of which we must realize that they should be carried in our hearts for the sixth epoch of culture and that it is our task to prepare them for this sixth epoch.
[Three key characteristics]
- There is lacking in human society nowadays a quality that, in the sixth epoch, will be a characteristic of those men who reach the goal of that epoch, and have not fallen short of it. It is a quality that will not, of course, be found among those who in the sixth epoch have still remained at the stage of savages or barbarians. One of the most significant characteristics of men living on the earth at the peak of culture in the sixth epoch, will be a certain moral quality. Little of this quality is perceptible in modern humanity. A man today must be delicately organized for his soul to feel pain when he sees other human beings in the world in less happy circumstances than his own. It is true that more delicately organized natures feel pain at the suffering that is so widespread in the world, but this can only be said of the people who are particularly sensitive. In the sixth epoch, the most highly cultured will not only feel pain such as is caused today by the sight of poverty, suffering and misery in the world, but such individuals will experience the suffering of another human being as their own suffering. If they see a hungry man they will feel the hunger right down into the physical, so acutely indeed that the hunger of the other man will be unendurable to them. The moral characteristic indicated here is that, unlike conditions in the fifth epoch, in the sixth epoch the well-being of the individual will depend entirely upon the well-being of the whole. Just as nowadays the well-being of a single human limb depends upon the health of the whole body, and when the whole body is not healthy the single limb is not up to doing its work, so in the sixth epoch a common consciousness will lay hold of the then civilized humanity and in a far higher degree than a limb feels the health of the whole body, the individual will feel the suffering, the need, the poverty or the wealth of the whole. This is the first preeminently moral trait that will characterize the cultured humanity of the sixth epoch.
- A second fundamental characteristic will be that everything we call the fruits of belief today will depend to a far, far higher degree than is the case today, upon the single individuality. Spiritual science expresses this by saying that in every sphere of religion in the sixth epoch, complete freedom of thought and a longing for it will so lay hold of men that what a man likes to believe, what religious convictions he holds, will rest wholly within the power of his own individuality. Collective beliefs that exist in so many forms today among the various communities will no longer influence those who constitute the civilized portion of humanity in the sixth epoch of culture. Everyone will feel that complete freedom of thought in the domain of religion is a fundamental right of the human being.
- The third characteristic will be that men in the sixth epoch will only be considered to have real knowledge when they recognize the spiritual, when they know that the spiritual pervades the world and that human souls must unite with the spiritual. What is known as science today with its materialistic trend will certainly not be honored by the name of science in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. It will be regarded as antiquated superstition, able to pass muster only among those who have remained behind at the stage of the superseded fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Today we regard it as superstition when, let us say, a savage holds the view that no limb ought to be separated from his body at death because this would make it impossible for him to enter the spiritual world as a whole man. Such a man still connects the idea of immortality with pure materialism, with the belief that an impress of his whole form must pass into the spiritual world. He thinks materialistically but believes in immortality. We, today, knowing from spiritual science that the spiritual has to be separated from the body and that only the spiritual passes into the super-sensible world, regard such materialistic beliefs in immortality as superstition. Similarly, in the sixth epoch all materialistic beliefs including science, too, will be regarded as antiquated superstition. Men as a matter of course will accept as science only such forms of knowledge as are based upon the spiritual, upon pneumatology.
The whole purpose of spiritual science is to prepare in this sense for the sixth epoch of culture. We try to cultivate spiritual science in order to overcome materialism, to prepare the kind of science that must exist in that epoch. We found communities of human beings within which there must be no dogmatic beliefs or any tendency to accept teaching simply because it emanates from one person or another. We found communities of human beings in which everything, without exception, must be built upon the soul's free assent to the teachings. Herein we prepare what spiritual science calls freedom of thought. By coming together in friendly associations for the purpose of cultivating spiritual science, we prepare the culture, the civilization of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch.
In the sixth cultural age the spirit self must be developed within the souls of men, just as now the consciousness soul is being developed. The nature of spirit self is that it must pre-suppose the existence in human souls of the three characteristics of which I have spoken:
- social life in which brotherliness prevails,
- freedom of thought, and
These three characteristics are essential in a community of human beings within which the spirit self is to develop as the consciousness soul develops in the souls of the fifth epoch.
[Link with groups and associations working on spiritual science is made in this whole lecture, read in full]
We may therefore picture to ourselves that by uniting in brotherliness in working groups, something hovers invisibly over our work, something that is like the child of the forces of the spirit self - the spirit self that is nurtured by the beings of the higher hierarchies in order that it may stream down into our souls when they are again on earth in the sixth cultural age. In our groups we perform work that streams upward to those forces that are being prepared for the spirit self.
1916-03-18-GA174b talks about the tasks for the sixt cultural age, and the russian human being
Beinsa Douno is regarded as the herald of the great Sixth epoch and the next slavic or russian cultural age.