Rudolph Steiner and The Crossing of the Threshold

by Gregory Joly

Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), is most noted for his founding of the Anthroposophical Society, ‘Camp Hill’ communities, and for the development of the Waldorf educational system. He was also a  well published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, particularly known for his work on Goethe’s scientific writings. Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, science, special education, religion, economics, philosophy, agriculture (Biodynamic method), architecture, drama, and new arts of eurythmy and speech, amongst other fields.

The following excerpts from his book ‘An outline of Esoteric Science’ (circa 1910) were chosen to corroborate the work of other contributors (to this site), who, like Steiner, foretold of spiritual evolutionary changes now besetting humanity. His keen ability to engage ‘super-sensible’ cognition of the evolutionary forces at play behind creation have resulted in a significant contribution towards helping us understand both where we’ve come from and where we’re going .

As well as clearly articulating  an evolutionary ‘map’, Steiner has, through his writings, impressed upon us some of the subtler realities pertaining  to forthcoming  phases of evolution. He refers to the existence of numerous Earths reincarnating throughout time, and perceived  the occurrence of yet another evolutionary separation taking place. The absence of a mineral kingdom, a fully spiritualized  form of existence, and the supreme importance of Love are all aspects of the new world that he envisioned.

Although no specific dates are given in the ‘Outline of Esoteric Science’ for future stages of human and planetary evolution, one may, through sufficient cross-referencing, reasonably understand Steiner’s timetable to correspond with that of other systems without any great stretches of the imagination whatsoever.

An Overview of Planetary Incarnations

“If we follow the Earth’s development in reverse in the sense of the above-mentioned spiritual scientific method of research, (i.e., supersensible perception), we arrive at  a stage when our planet existed in a spiritual state. If we continue researching still further back in time, however, we find that this spiritual element previously existed as a physical embodiment of a sort. That is, we encounter a bygone physical planetary state that was later spiritualized; still later, it rematerialized and was transformed into our Earth. The Earth as we know it thus appears as the reincarnation of an ancient planet. But spiritual science can go still further back, and when it does, it finds that this whole process was repeated two more times. This Earth of ours has undergone three prior planetary stages with intervening stages of spiritualization. The further back we trace  these incarnations, the more subtle and delicate in character the physical element becomes.” (p.125)

“Now supersensible research gives names to these planetary incarnations, calling the first Saturn, the second Sun, the third Moon, the fourth Earth, (and so on). We must keep clearly in mind however, that these classifications must not immediately be associated with the use of the same names for the components of our present-day solar system. Saturn, Sun, and Moon (etc.) are intended as names for evolutionary forms the Earth went though in the past.” (p.128)
                                        Cosmic and Human Evolution Now and in the Future

“When this supersensible consciousness concentrates on the perception that is possible at present, it becomes evident that this
perception is gradually separating into two images all by itself. One image represents the form the Earth had during its Moon phase of evolution. But as the other image presents itself, we can recognize that it contains a form that is still in a seminal stage; only in the future will it become a reality in the way that the Earth is a reality now. On further observation, it becomes apparent that in a certain sense the results of what happens on Earth are constantly flowing into this future form, which therefore represents what our earth is meant to become. The effects of earthly existence will unite with what happens in this other
world, giving rise to the new cosmic being into which the earth will eventually be transformed, just as the Moon was transformed into the earth. We can call this future form the Jupiter stage.”(p.377)

“This world’s image also splits into two when we contemplate it inwardly. One image leads to the knowledge of the past Sun stage, while the other presents a future form of the earth.” (p.379)

 Human characteristics evident during various cultural periods.

 “......Thus the knowledge arising among the new initiates encompassed all the subject matter of ancient  initiation, but from its center radiated the higher knowledge of the mysteries of the Christ event. As long as the human souls of the fourth  post-Atlantean period were meant to be consolidating their faculties of intellect and feeling, this knowledge was only able to flow into general life to a limited extent, so during that time it was really quite hidden. Then the new age of the fifth cultural period dawned. Its main feature was the further development of intellectual abilities, which blossomed exuberantly then
and will continue to unfold in the present and future. A gradual buildup to this period began in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and its progress accelerated from the sixteenth century onward into the present.

Under these influences, cultivating the forces of reason became the chief concern of evolution in the fifth cultural period. In contrast, traditional knowledge of and confidence in a supersensible world lost more and more of its power over human souls. However, it was replaced by what we may call an increasingly strong influx into human souls of knowledge derived from modern supersensible consciousness. “Hidden” knowledge was now flowing, although imperceptibly to begin with, into
people’s way of thinking. It is self-evident that intellectual forces have continued to reject this knowledge right into the present. But what must happen will happen in spite of any temporary rejection.

Symbolically, this hidden knowledge, which is taking hold of humanity from the other side and will do so increasingly in the future, can be called “the knowledge of the Grail.” If we learn to understand the deeper meaning of this symbol as it is presented in stories and legends, we will discover a significant image of what has been described above as the new initiation knowledge with the Christ mystery at it’s center. Therefore, modern initiates can also be known as “Grail initiates.” ”(p.388)

“At present, we are living in a time when more of this knowledge ought to enter common consciousness than was formerly the case. To the extent that human evolution will absorb Grail knowledge, the impulse supplied by the Christ event can become ever more significant. What we can recognize through imagination, inspiration, and intuition about higher worlds in conjunction with the Christ mystery will increasingly permeate our life of ideas, feelings, and will. “Hidden” grail knowledge will become evident; as an inner force, it will increasingly permeate the manifestations of human life.

......when the sixth cultural period begins, humanity will have been able to reacquire the non-sensory perception it possessed in a dusk-like way in earlier times-but now on a higher level and in a form that is quite different from the old perception. In the future, our souls will not only receive flashes of inspiration, but will also comprehend them and experience them as the essence of human soul-nature.” (p.389)

“A sufficiently large number of human beings are meant to develop this state of mind during the sixth post-Atlantean cultural period. In ancient times, impressions from the supersensible worlds were experienced as forces that urged human beings on, but emanated from an outer spiritual world that did not include them. In contrast, more recent evolution allows us to perceive these impressions as coming from a world we human beings are growing into and are increasingly a part of.

If understood correctly, the effect of the  Christ impulse is to make the human souls that receive it feel, recognize, and conduct
themselves as members of a spiritual world, whereas formerly they were outsiders.”(p.390)

 “All the wonderful wisdom that the great teachers of ancient India could proclaim will be able to reappear as life truths in human souls in the seventh cultural period.”(p.391)

“Now, any transformations in things in the earthly world outside of human beings also have a certain relationship to humankind’s own evolution. When the seventh cultural period has run it’s course, the earth will be struck by an upheaval comparable to the one that took place between the Atlantean and post-Atlantean 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 period and the subsequent fifth, sixth, and seventh periods of post-Atlantean evolution will be able to cope with these reconfigured earthly circumstances. The inner nature of these souls will correspond to what the Earth has then become. Other souls will have to stay 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 period. The fifth and sixth periods are the decisive ones, so to speak. In the seventh period, 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”.(p.391-392) 

“This will take place at a time when another development that has turned toward evil will be taking place alongside the high level of  development reached by the appropriate number of human souls. Souls whose development has been delayed will have accumulated so much error, ugliness, and evil in their karma that they temporarily form a distinct union of evil and aberrant human beings who vehemently oppose the community of good human beings...... After an interim stage that
resembles a sojourn in a higher world, the Earth will transform itself into the Jupiter state.

During the Jupiter stage, what is now called the mineral kingdom will not exist; mineral forces will have been transformed into plant forces.” (p.392-393)

“......During the Venus stage, a distinct cosmic body will break away, containing all the beings who have resisted evolution and constituting an “unredeemable moon” so to speak. It will move toward an evolution that is so different in character from anything we can experience on Earth that there are no words that can possibly express it. The part of humanity that has continued to evolve, however, will move on to the Vulcan phase of evolution in a fully spiritualized form of existence.

We see that the highest imaginable ideal of human evolution results from Grail knowledge- that is, the spiritualization that we achieve through our own work. Ultimately, this spiritualization will appear as the result of the harmony that human beings were able to to bring about in the fifth and sixth cultural periods between their forces of intellect and feeling and their knowledge of supersensible worlds. What they produced there in their inmost souls will ultimately become the outer world.” (p.394)

“Human beings can also recognize their own inner experiences of intellect, feeling, and morality as the seeds of a future spiritual

“The Earth stage contains what evolved during the preceding Saturn, Sun, and Moon phases of evolution. Earthly human beings find wisdom in the events taking place around them; it is there as a result of what happened previously. The Earth is the descendant of the old Moon, which shaped itself and everything  belonging to it into the cosmos of wisdom. The Earth, which is the beginning of an evolution that will inject new force into this wisdom, brings human beings to the point where they
experience themselves as independent members of a spiritual world.” (p.395)

“In the future, the independent human I, (which was received through the Spirits of Form), will exist in harmony with the beings of Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan, because of the power that the Earth stage injects into wisdom. This is the power of love, which must begin in human beings on earth. The “cosmos of wisdom” is developing into a “cosmos of love.” Everything that the “I” can develop within itself must turn into love. The exalted Sun being we were able to characterize in describing Christ’s evolution manifests as the all-encompassing example of love, planting the seed of love in the innermost core of the human being. From there, it is meant to flow out into all of evolution. Just as wisdom, which formed earlier, discloses itself in the forces of the sense-perceptible earthly world, in present day forces of nature, love will appear as a new natural force in all phenomena in the future. This is the mystery of all future evolution: that our knowledge and everything we do out of a true understanding of evolution sow seeds that must ripen into love. The greater the power of the love that comes into being, the more we will be able to accomplish creatively on behalf of the future. The strongest forces working toward the end result of spiritualization lie in what will come from love. The more spiritual knowledge flows into the evolution of humanity and the Earth, the greater the number of viable seeds will there be for the future. Through it’s very nature, spiritual knowledge transforms itself into love.” (p. 396-397)

“Wisdom is the prerequisite for love; love is the result of wisdom that has been reborn in the I.” (p.397)  

Rudolph Steiner

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