Spiritual minority in a materialistic world
Considering the population worldwide, the spiritual scientific worldview segment or cohort will always be a minority in an established dominant world which is very, totally different. Given how the two are tangential, diametrally opposed .. the dominant majority is bound to not understand and/or ridicule the other.
The seed used in the plant metaphor corresponds to the cultural age from which the 'sample' for the next evolutionary phase is taken, see Schema FMC00.169A below, See also Overlapping evolutionary periods
The fifth and sixth cultural ages are decisive ( see 1910-GA013 quote on the Current Postatlantean epoch.)
Lecture coverage and references
Below are two main quotes from two lectures early 1909. They are supplemented with two more quotes, for additional positioning.
Exceptionally on this site, the two main references are quoted in full with extended excerpts.
Atlantis time picture
We have often talked about the fact that humanity must consider its ancestors to have come from ancient Atlantis, a former geographical region situated between what is today Africa and Europe on the one hand and America on the other.
All the souls that are present today had already been incarnated in Atlantis, but in bodies that were in part considerably different from the ones we are accustomed to seeing.
The Atlantean humanity had its own special form of leadership, and the soul-forces — indeed all the faculties — of the Atlanteans differed greatly from those of human beings. Hence, leadership as we know it today was nonexistent. In Atlantis, for example, there were no churches, ceremonial centers, or schools in the modern sense, but there existed an intermediate institution between ceremonial center and school; that is what we call the mystery sanctuaries or centers.
Leadership of the Atlanteans with respect to learning and the conditions of external life was vested in these sanctuaries, and one could say that the spiritual leaders were at the same time kings of the Atlantean tribes. Initiates, whose mission can be circumscribed by a word of later coinage, by the word oracle, imported knowledge and exercised leadership in the mysteries. We therefore designate the great centers of Atlantean culture as the “Atlantean Oracles.”
We have to get a clear understanding of the function of these oracles. They had to impart knowledge to human beings about the spiritual world behind the physical world. Knowledge such as this is different from ordinary knowledge in many ways; to stress only one difference, spiritual knowledge is not confined to space as is our present knowledge of the physical world. Anyone who, for example, knows about the mysteries of Mars also knows a great deal about the spiritual mysteries of the entire universe. All the heavenly bodies of our solar system are interconnected, and as such they are the exterior expression of spiritual beings. The individual who knows these spiritual beings also knows the forces that are at work from one planet to another as well as in the spiritual world during the time between death and rebirth.
And so it was the primary task of one oracle in Atlantis to transmit and proclaim to human beings the mysteries of Mars, whereas the primary task of another was to communicate the mysteries of Jupiter, and so on; and these compartmentalized insights made it possible to lead certain sections of the population.
The Atlanteans were divided into groups, and part of the whole developmental process was that one group of human beings had to be governed especially by the forces that could be acquired through the knowledge of Mars. Other groups had to be governed by the forces acquired through the knowledge of Venus, or Mercury, and so on. In ancient Atlantis there were actually human beings alive whom we could call “Jupiter People” or “Mars People,” and there were seven oracle centers because the populace in ancient Atlantis was divided into seven groups according to racial characteristics. The names applicable to these oracle centers corresponded to the names of the planets, but they were assigned to the oracles at a later time.
The leadership of, and supreme sovereignty over, all other oracles was vested in what we may designate as the Atlantean Sun Oracle. Whatever oracles existed in the post-Atlantean periods — in Greece, Egypt, Asia, all were successors of the Sun Oracle in Atlantis. This is true also for the Apollo Oracle in Greece.
The initiate who headed this Sun Oracle was the guardian of the deepest mysteries of our solar system. Together with his subordinates, he was called upon to investigate the nature of the spiritual life on the sun itself. His role was to proclaim to Atlantean humanity the secrets of the whole planetary system and to exercise supreme authority over the other oracle centers.
Selecting material for cultivation
A very special task devolved on the Initiate of the Sun Oracle. It was to guide humanity in such a way that when the great catastrophe culminating in the submergence of Atlantis was over, the human race would be able to propagate and establish what we have often discussed as the postAtlantean cultures. Specifically, the task of the Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle was to prepare human beings during the Atlantean time in such a way that they could enter the ancient Indian, Persian, Egypto-Babylonian-Hebraic, and Graeco-Roman cultures. To put it differently, the Great Initiate had to see to it that enough suitable soul material was available for these cultural epochs.
We must now inform ourselves a little about the task of this Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle.
What were the essential features of Atlantean culture?
Certainly it was quite different from later cultures. In ancient Atlantis, an individual belonging to the highest level of cultural life — the levels at which today's great leaders in, say, scholarship, art, industry, or commerce can be found — was one who possessed extraordinary clairvoyant faculties and who was especially skilled in the use of magical powers.
The qualities usually attributed to a leader or to a scholar were nonexistent in those days, or they were known only in the most primitive form. But although modern arithmetic, counting, logical reasoning, and intellectual deduction were unknown to the Atlanteans, they did possess primitive clairvoyant faculties and powers with which they could pierce into the spiritual worlds. Without the modern ego-consciousness, the Atlanteans saw into the spiritual world, and those whose vision was the most penetrating became the pillars of Atlantean culture. We have already stressed that the Atlanteans were able to manipulate certain inner forces of nature, for example the seed forces of plants; they propelled their vehicles with them, just as we utilize coal to propel our vehicles.
To repeat, the leaders of the Atlantean culture were not the people who tried, as the leaders of our time try, to unlock the secrets of the universe with their intellectual powers; rather, the leading individuals in Atlantis were those who excelled as clairvoyants and magicians.
And those human beings who had the first rudimentary inkling about arithmetic, counting, logical reasoning, and intellectual deduction were in a certain sense despised because of their simplicity and were not considered as belonging to the aristocracy of cultural life.
But it was precisely those human beings who possessed the very first rudimentary knowledge of the aforementioned skills and who were the most lacking in clairvoyant and magical powers whom the Great Leader of the Sun Oracle gathered from all regions.
Yes, he assembled the most simple and, in a sense, the most despised people of ancient Atlantis — those who had first developed intellectual capacities.
But those who were then at the highest level of cultural life and who were the acknowledged masters of a dimmed clairvoyance were not suitable material to be led through and beyond the great Atlantean catastrophe. No, the call of the Initiate went out to the simple people.
Comparison with current epoch: a ‘call’ indeed
Incidentally, it may be said that we are living in an epoch today when a similar call is once again going out to humanity. To be sure, this appeal is what is appropriate for today, a time when humanity sees only what is in the physical world. The call to humanity issues from unknown depths of the spirit, depths that humanity will gradually become acquainted with, asking that humanity prepare itself for a new culture of the future, which will be permeated with clairvoyant powers. As with Atlantis, a catastrophe will occur, and afterwards a new culture imbued with spiritual capacities will arise, and it will be linked to what we call the idea of the universal brotherhood of humanity.
But today, as in Atlantean times, the call cannot go out to those who stand at the highest levels of cultural life because they will not understand. The Atlantean clairvoyants and magicians, who were in a way destined to die out with their culture, occupied a position similar to that of people in contemporary life who occupy the highest positions in the realms of scholarship and external industrial life—the great inventors and discoverers of our time.
No matter how much the present leaders feel there is still to be done, they nevertheless occupy the same position as their Atlantean counterparts.
Contemptuously they look down on those who are beginning to feel something of the spiritual life to come.
The consciousness of this fact must be awakened in the soul of anyone whose cooperative efforts in the anthroposophical workshops are to be strengthened. When leading representatives of modern culture look contemptuously down at these small circles, those who are participating diligently in the preparation of future conditions must say to themselves that the intellectual giants of today cannot be counted on to lead the way in this task.
It is precisely the people who are held in contempt because they are not considered to have reached the heights of contemporary erudition who are being assembled today, just as the leader of the Sun Oracle once gathered around him the simple of Atlantis. These disdained people are being assembled to prepare the dawn of a new culture whereas erudition of the modern form will bring about the twilight of our culture.
This is mentioned in passing to fortify those who have to endure and hold their own against the attacks of the people who consider themselves to be on the cutting edge of contemporary culture.
Wherever anthroposophical truth is proclaimed and where the spiritual element that pulsates through us is cultivated, there our message must be delivered in the light of sincerity, even when it is still surrounded by the thoughts of those who hate anthroposophy. However, in the midst of those who hate anthroposophy there are souls who, more or less consciously, long for the light of anthroposophy. And especially a strong contrast such as the one I have experienced during the past fourteen days can show us what a strong magnet anthroposophical life is.
The observation of our immediate present teaches us that this anthroposophical force is now strong enough to justify our joyful and satisfying hope that the small seedling planted today will in the future grow into a mighty tree.
As anthroposophists, we are today in the same position humanity was in during the ancient Atlantean time.
And just as life has become different since that time, so it will change again in the future, up to a time following a catastrophe. The wide perspective will now be made to appear before our souls.
Atlantean culture and technology – vehicles, navigation, ..
Let us call to memory a similar movement in the last third of the Atlantean epoch that started small just like ours. The Atlantean soul life, which in many ways was still clairvoyant, had reached a high point during that time, but it did not yet have the consciousness of self, the strong feeling of the “I.”
Instead, Atlanteans had a certain ability of clairvoyance and also certain magical powers, and this enabled them to look into the spiritual world. Those who had progressed to be leaders of this civilization were the ones best able to gaze into the spiritual world in the old ways and to bring forth the most knowledge from the astral realms.
This clairvoyance disappeared little by little; in fact, mankind had to lose it completely in order to conquer for itself the consciousness of self in the physical world. But it is certain that clairvoyant knowledge in the last third of the Atlantean era had reached a special climax.
You will remember the technological achievement of the Atlanteans. They flew over the earth in small space vehicles — close to the earth because the atmosphere was saturated with thick fog formations. They propelled their small vehicles through this sea of air and water with energy derived from sprouting plants. The leading creators of this technology can be compared to today's industrial wizards who construct ingenious machines from lifeless forces. And those Atlanteans who could relate the most from the spiritual world can be compared to today's leading scholars and natural scientists.
A segment of the population developing
However, within this Atlantean humanity a segment of people began to evolve who had only minor clairvoyant faculties, but possessed the ability to regard the external world with affection. The first rudimentary beginnings of arithmetic and counting could be observed in these people, but their participation in the great advances of the Atlantean industry — the construction of ever mightier vehicles for this sea of water and air — was very limited.
And thus a small, insignificant group of people had developed in this last third of the Atlantean period who, in a certain sense, were despised for their comparative lack of clairvoyant power and their inability to participate in this great industry. However, this group of people prepared the way for seeing and knowing that is prevalent today, the way of seeing and knowing of which the external world today is so proud since it developed it in such a one-sided way.
Those leaders of the Atlantean civilization who had mastered everything that could be known from the vantage point of the Atlantean consciousness, including technology, conceived of a technical idea toward the end of the Atlantean era that has become fully productive in modern times. We can compare it to another measure of progress in our time that will carry over into the next catastrophe.
During their golden age, the Atlanteans had vehicles that moved through air that was heavily mixed with water.
Later, however, when their culture was already in a state of decline, it also became necessary to navigate the water, and this led the last cultural races of the Atlantean era first to embracing and then to realizing the idea of navigation and the conquest of the seas. This momentous idea in the Atlantean era not only of traversing the air but also of navigating the ocean water was quite a sensational idea that was put into reality by the last Atlantean races. After long experiments to navigate the waters, success came during the time when Atlantean culture was already in its decline.
Those responsible for this tremendous progress were not the ones who could be recruited for the task of transmitting the legacy of the actual spiritual life from the Atlantean era to our time. Rather, this task was reserved for the plain and simple people because they had been the first ones to be endowed with the ability to relate to the physical world. They were the ones whose clairvoyant faculties, though deteriorated the most among the several groups of people, were still adequate for those who were messengers from the spiritual world.
These people, despised by the great scholars and inventors, were gathered by an eminent initiate whom we call The Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle.
This small group was comprised of people who had least preserved their technical abilities and who were disdained by the leaders and by the great scholars and inventors. Yet it was precisely they whom the Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle led from the West to the East, through Europe and into Asia. And it is also this small group of people that made the foundation of the post-Atlantean cultures possible.
The best of what was subsequently developed by the various cultures, the mighty tree of post-Atlantean knowledge and wisdom, emanated from the descendants of the despised simple people from the Atlantean era. Above all, something else emanated from the midst of the descendants of this group of modest people. Let us place the external events side by side with the internal events of our evolution. Let us look at the great sensation of the Atlantean era when the secondary racial group, whose descendants were the Phoenicians, invented navigation.
What was accomplished by this invention?
We need only to remember the great events from the beginning of modern times, such as the great voyages of discovery by Columbus and other seafarers, which would have been impossible without navigation and the invention of ships, and we shall see how this sensational invention led to the gradual conquest of the physical plane on earth. PostAtlantean peoples were confined to a small radius of activities, but through the invention of ships the circle defining the earth became rounded out so that we now have a completed configuration of the physical plane. And thus, the sensational invention of the Atlantean world reaches into our time and promotes further progress on the physical plane.
However, the greatest conquest in the Atlantean era emanated from the descendants of that group of plain people gathered around the Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle. And when those descendants, through their own development, had prepared the Indian, Persian, Egyptian, GraecoLatin, and our cultures, the earth became capable of yielding the material into which the Christ could be born. Therefore, the greatest spiritual event and deed of the post-Atlantean era had its beginning in the people who belonged to the most despised human beings in the eyes of the leaders of the Atlantean civilization, and this event gave rise to the immense spiritual progress that supports and maintains all spiritual life in our time — weaves through it and makes it productive.
[Editor note: more on the Christ Impulse, Buddhi, and Love in this same lecture, after the end of this lecture extract]
Similarity with our times
The events in Atlantis are paralleled by those of our time.
Seeing that the germinal beginnings of man's ability to do arithmetic and to count were present in Atlantis, we can recognize how these capabilities are today furthered in a marvelous conquest of the physical plane and how they brought about all kinds of technical progress.
We also see how the great inventors and discoverers today have reached the culmination, in a sense, in applying those forces that first began to germinate with the small group of despised people in the Atlantean time.
And what was then clairvoyant knowledge is today knowledge of nature and of the physical world.
There is also a similarity between the spiritual leaders of the Atlantean civilization and today's natural scientists and scholars.
On the other hand, a class of plain people exists everywhere — irrespective of positions its members might hold in the world, whose hearts are filled with the mighty magnet that attracts us to spiritual life, just as people in Atlantis were attracted to a life in which the external faculties for the physical plane could be developed.
Differences between the two situations
Despite these similarities, there is also a certain difference between the modern and the ancient situation.
In the old days referred to, the last remnants of clairvoyance were still present in people so that they were able to behold the Great Initiate.
In a certain way, things today are more difficult for human beings when a call from the spiritual world issues to an equally small group of people, something we designate as the call from/of the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings. But since people today are placed on the physical plane, these Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings are at first unknown to this small nucleus of human beings that has crystallized itself out of the mass of people.
As we can deduce from the facts of the present time, this small group feels in its hearts that there is such a thing as a new spiritual message that is meant to have an effect on the future just as the message in former ages has had an effect on the present. These human beings who today come from all walks of life and whom we can find everywhere are the true theosophists because they carry in their hearts a longing for a spiritual life that is meant to lay the foundation for future cultures. The true theosophists in our time are emerging — just as we now encounter a sensational discovery similar to the one in the Atlantean era.
In ancient times water was conquered through the highest technological progress; the same is true today in the case of air. This conquest will, of course, extend into a later epoch. But just as ships in our times have brought about mastery of the physical plane only, so the air ship that will lead human beings into the atmosphere and beyond will empower the pilots to find only matter — material things. Granted, new realms of the physical plane will be conquered, and this will be beneficial for the external world. However, the inner spiritual life is borne in the hearts of those who feel spiritually fulfilled by the promise of being able in the future to look into the spiritual world while being conscious of self
Look into life and you will find out there our leaders of civilization, the pillars of external culture, active as inventors and discoverers, as scholars and natural scientists. They look with scorn and contempt on a small group such as the one assembled here today that constitutes itself as a new bearer of culture and that unites its members with others in spiritual scientific associations. The events of the ancient Atlantean era repeat themselves.
However, when the spiritual life touches your hearts with such force that you can compare yourselves with dignity to those who were gathered around the Great Initiate of the Sun Oracle, then you will be the bearers of spiritual life in later ages. In addition to offering humanity the external, material, and corporeal realities, such a life would also make possible a renewed immersion in the spiritual world.
Although the Great Initiate gathered human beings around Himself in ancient times, today the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings [editor: White Lodge] fulfill a similar function and issue their call to you.
If you feel your mission from a sense of history, then your hearts will become strong enough to withstand all the ridicule and disdain that the so-called pillars of civilization heap on Spiritual Science from the outside. And if you understand your mission in this spirit, then your thoughts will be strong and any doubt that may reverberate into your souls from the outside will be unable to shake you in your conviction. Your thoughts will be spiritually refined by the very force that can issue from such a knowledge of our mission.
Even if we have to review thousands of years and establish far-reaching ideals, it is worth the effort because where such ideals are established, life is transmuted, and where they are absent, life is dead. Ideals transform themselves into the force of a moment even if they have been taken from vast periods of time and may seem to make the person subscribing to them appear somewhat petty and despondent.
You will be strong for the most insignificant task if you are capable of extracting your ideal from the loftiest heights.
This will make you stand fast when those who govern the world with their erudition talk with disdain and contempt about the little spiritual scientific associations where those people sit who “do not want to go along with contemporary culture.” Oh yes, they do want to go along, and they also know to appreciate the accomplishments of the external, physical world, but they also know that just as a body cannot be without a soul, no external culture can exist without spiritual life.
Our whole civilization has its origin in the spiritual world. That's where plans are made that govern our life on the physical plane. Down here we only see how one event after another takes place according to physical laws, but the great spiritual causes are hidden from us. It's events on higher planes of our existence that bring about physical events.
An especially important event took place on the astral plane in November 1879. Since then esoteric life has taken on a quite different direction. The esoteric stream that lived in mankind since the 14th century was replaced by a new one. Previously all occult life took place very quietly and hidden from the outer world under the direction of the archangel Gabriel (“annunciation”).
Something quite similar to a birth took place on the astral plane in 1879. What had slowly ripened since the 14th century could now be carried into the world in a freer way, even though only for a few people. For Gabriel's rule was followed by that of the archangel Michael. He's the radiant sun that lets esoteric wisdom shine out into a small host of people.
Materialism is included in the divine plan of creation and it has a purpose in the whole world. But the time has now come for the esoteric sun to shine brightly under Michael's radiant direction. For materialism's dark forces are increasing.
Michael's radiant rule will be followed by a dark, terrible age that starts about 2300.
Together with Michael, a dark God has begun his rule — the God Mammon.
For occultism Mammon isn't just the God of money. He's the leader of all base, black forces. And his hosts attack men's bodies and souls to corrode and ruin them. There's a lot of talk about bacterial today, and they influence a lot of things. In future they'll increase in a terrifying way, and many human bodies will waste away from terrible diseases and plagues. The brand of sin will be stamped on men's bodies for all to see.
Another archangel — Oriphiel — will rule then. He must come to shake men up to their true vocation through terrible tortures.
So that this can happen in the right way a small group of people must be prepared today to spread esoteric life in the black age 400–600 years from now.
One under Michael's rule who feels the urge to participate in spiritual life is called upon to serve archangel Michael and to learn under him .. so that someday he'll be mature enough to also serve the terrible Oriphiel in the right way.
A sacrifice is demanded from those who want to dedicate themselves to a higher life. One should only want to receive spiritual life and experience an awakening if one later wants to use this to put oneself, one's will and everything one has in the service of mankind only.
In four to six centuries the small group of men who are being prepared today will serve the God Oriphiel so that mankind can be saved. If in that age men wanted to be spiritual leaders who hadn't been prepared to stand fast in all storms and to resist Mammon's hosts, they wouldn't be able to serve the God Oriphiel in the right way, and mankind would not be lifted out of their misery.
So in order to do it we must work very earnestly now to fulfill our tasks then.
But when dark powers rage most terribly, the brightest light also shines.
Oriphiel has ruled before. That was the time when Christ appeared on earth. Bad powers of degeneration and decadence were ruling everywhere on earth then. And the human race could only be shaken higher by terrible means. Oriphiel is called the archangel of wrath, who purifies mankind with a strong hand.
The story in the Bible where Christ swings a scourge to chase the money changers out of the temple has a deep meaning. Back when things were darkest on earth, Christ appeared as the savior of mankind.
Oriphiel's reign ended 109 years after Christ's appearance, and he was replaced by Anael. Then came Zachariel, then Raphael; Samael ruled during the Renaissance and Gabriel from the 16th century until 1879. Then Michael began to rule, and circa 2300 Oriphiel, the terrible archangel of wrath, will be ruling things.
And as once before, spiritual light will shine into darkness brightly and radiantly. Christ will appear again on earth, although in a different form than before. We're called upon to receive him and to serve him.
[Editor note: refer to Christ's appearance in the etheric, also referred to as the 'second coming']
When you, my sisters and brothers, let the spiritual life that streams into your soul live in you so that it reverberates in your meditations, you then have the right fruit. You should let what's received echo in your meditations. While you do that the spiritual powers of the world stream into you.
The world is always flowed through by spiritual streams that proceed from the great Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings [editor, re: White Lodge]. The Masters continuously pour streams of love and wisdom over humanity, but men's souls aren't always ready and open to receive them.
But meditation words are magic words that open soul portals so that divine life can move in. That's why one shouldn't speculate with one's intellect about meditation words, but should open the soul for forces that are higher than merely intellectual ones. If one speculates about them with one's intellect then only forces that are already in one become active. But higher forces are supposed to awaken. One shouldn't want to solve riddles in one's meditation words, one should let them solve riddles, for they're much wiser than the intellect can ever be. That's why one should let them work on one and take in what they permit to flow into one's soul, let them live completely in one's soul.
When the seventh cultural age (in the current postatlantean epoch) has run its course .. the Earth will be struck by an upheaval comparable to the one that took place between the Atlantean and Postatlantean ages.
After this, evolution will continue under transformed earthly circumstances through seven more time periods.
However, only human beings embodying souls that have become all that they could under the influence of the Greco-Latin cultural age and the subsequent fifth, sixth, and seventh ages of post-Atlantean evolution will be able to cope with these reconfigured earthly circumstances.
Other souls will have to remain behind at this stage, although earlier they could still have chosen to create the prerequisites for participation in it. The souls mature enough to face the conditions that will exist after the next great upheaval will be the ones who succeeded in imbuing supersensible knowledge with their own forces of intellect and feeling at the transition from the fifth to the sixth post-Atlantean cultural age.
The fifth and sixth cultural ages are the decisive ones, so to speak.
In the seventh cultural age, although the souls who have achieved the goal of the sixth will continue to develop accordingly, the changed circumstances in their surroundings will provide little opportunity for the others to make up for lost time. The next opportunity will present itself only in the distant future.
Not all reach the goal. A third part (of humanity) falls away completely from evolution. We have therefore one third which will attain the goal, one third which lags behind, and one third which does not reach the goal and falls completely away. One third attains its goal, a second third will only later attain its goal, making together two thirds; and at the end of the Fifth epoch, only one third of those who began evolution will have reached the necessary stage of development.
[Editor note: in the above quote, terminology was edited to be consistent with the nomenclature Steiner adopted throughout his decades of lecture cycles, namely: seven epochs (eg Lemuria, Atlantis, current Postatlantean, ..) and below that seven cultural ages in each epoch. In this book, as well as in other older texts, he uses 'root races' and 'periods' but these can give rise to confusion.]
For the reader
This page is is dedicated to the loneliness that a human being may experience, the scorn from others because of the above differences.
You are not alone, many people worldwide are in this situation, but just in a minority and very dispersed and scattered, amongst the millions and billions of people driven less consciously by the materialistic worldview and certain powers, driving our world into another direction.
From the concept described in the Discussion section of Planets hosting .. , of the 'pie chart of humanity with different groups and cohorts', a link could be made to another topic, that of Karl König and his work for the spiritual well-being of adults with Down syndrome, people who in some particular way also do not fit into regular society yet have particular soul characteristics (see Camphill Community, as well as König's views on Kasper Hauser).
- Overlapping evolutionary periods
- Atlantean epoch
- The Michaelic stream
- Planets hosting beings at various stages of evolution