Sunday, May 23, 2010

Technology, Science Fiction, and Anthroposophy

Time and Space

Science fiction is a genre of fiction where its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature. Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas". It's about writing rationally about alternative possibilities. The settings are often contrary to known reality, but the majority of science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief provided by potential scientific explanations to various fictional elements.

These may include: 1) A setting in the future, in alternative timelines, or in a historical past that contradicts known facts of history or the archaeological record. 2) A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature. 3) Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia).

This is basically how science fiction has been defined in the Wikipedia, and it's a fairly useful summary. I'll come back to some of this, but one fundamental principle that I need to emphasize for the purpose of this article is the radical contrast between space thinking and time thinking, between the perception of man as a space being on the one hand, and time being on the other. Theosophy and anthroposophy comprise as unique body of thoughts precisely because the latter is emphasized, namely time, in contradistinction to the ordinary or orthodox perception of empirical truth, where space in considered our primary reality.

In order to clarify what I'm getting at with a reference to Rudolf Steiner, I have picked out a very special lecture from June 1924 in connection with the Whitsun Festival, where he gives a crystal clear description of this contrast, not only between time and space, but also between the materialistic and the spiritual conceptions of the universe.
"This modern scientific conception of the world examines the physical qualities of everything on the Earth, living and lifeless. It also investigates the stars, the sun, the moon, etc.; and it discovers — indeed it is particularly proud of the discovery — that these heavenly bodies are fundamentally of the same nature as the Earth.

"Such a conception can only result from a form of knowledge which at no point comes to a real grasp of man himself — a knowledge which takes hold only of what is external to man. The moment, however, we really take hold of Man as he stands within the Universe, we become able to discover the relationships between the several instrumental members of man's nature, the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body and the corresponding entities, the corresponding realities of Being, in the Cosmos.

"In regard to the etheric body of man, we find spread out in the Cosmos the universal Ether. The etheric body of man has a definite human shape, definite forms of movement within it, and so on. These, it is true, are different in the cosmic Ether. Nevertheless the cosmic Ether is fundamentally of like nature with what we find in the human etheric body. In the same way we can speak of a similarity between what is found in the human astral body and a certain astral principle that works through all things and all beings out in the far-spread Universe.

"Here we come to something of extraordinary importance, something which in its true nature is quite foreign to the human being of to-day. Let us take our start from this. (A drawing is made on the blackboard). We have, first, the Earth; and on the Earth we have Man, with his etheric body. Then in the Earth's environment we have the cosmic Ether — the cosmic Ether which is of the same nature as the etheric in man. In man we also have the astral body. In the cosmic environment too there is Astrality. Where are we to find this cosmic Astrality? Where is it? It is indeed to be found, but we must first discover — what it is in the Cosmos that betrays the presence of cosmic Astrality; what it is that reveals it. Somewhere or other is the Astrality. Is this Astrality in the Cosmos quite invisible and imperceptible, or is it, after all, in some way perceptible to us?

"In itself, of course, the Ether too is imperceptible for our physical senses. If I may put it so, when you are looking at a small fragment of Ether, you see nothing with your physical senses, you simply see through it. The Ether is like an empty nothingness to you. But when you regard the etheric environment as a totality, you behold the blue sky, of which we also say that it is not really there but that you are gazing into empty space. Now the reason why you see the blue of the sky is that you are actually perceiving the end of the Ether. Thus you behold the Ether as the blue of the heavens. The perception of the blue sky is really and truly a perception of the Ether. We may therefore say: In that we perceive the blue of the sky we are perceiving the universal Ether that surrounds us.

"At first contact, we see through the Ether. It allows us to do so; and yet, it makes itself perceptible in the blue heavens. Hence the existence for human perception of the blue of the sky is expressed in that we say: The Ether itself, though imperceptible, yet rises to the level of perceptibility by reason of the great majesty with which it stands there in the Universe, revealing its presence, making itself known in the blue of the vast expanse.

"Physical science theorises materialistically about the blue of the sky; and for physical science it is indeed very difficult to reach any intelligent conclusion on this point, for the simple reason that it is bound to admit that where we see the blue of the sky there is nothing physical. Nevertheless men spin out the most elaborate theories to explain how the rays of light are reflected and refracted in a peculiar way so as to call forth this blue of the sky. In reality, it is here that the supersensible world begins already to hold sway. In the Cosmos the Supersensible does indeed become visible to us. We have only to discover where and how it becomes visible. The Ether becomes perceptible to us through the blue of the sky.

"But now, somewhere there is also present the astral element of the Cosmos. In the blue sky the Ether peers through, as it were, into the realms of sense. Where then does the Astrality in the Cosmos peer through into the realms of perceptibility? The answer, my dear friends, is this.

"Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of entry for the Astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in towards us, there glitters and shines the Astral. Look at the starry heavens in their manifold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this wonderful configuration of radiant light, the invisible and super-sensible astral body of the Cosmos makes itself visible to us.

"For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just as though — forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is precisely true — it is just as though someone who loves you were gently stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those material entities of which modern physics tells. It is the astral body of the Universe which is perpetually wielding its influences — like the gently stroking fingers — on the etheric organism of the Cosmos. The etheric Cosmos is organised for very long duration; it is for this reason that a star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the cosmic Ether by the astral Universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking of your cheek. But in the Cosmos things do last longer, for there we are dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.

"In this way, an immense, unfathomable life, yet, at the same time, a soul-life, a real and actual life of the soul, is brought into the Cosmos. Think how dead the Cosmos appears to us when we look into the far spaces and see nothing but burning gaseous bodies. Think how living it all becomes when we know that the stars are an expression of the love with which the astral Cosmos works upon the etheric Cosmos — for this is to express it with perfect truth. Think then of those mysterious processes when certain stars suddenly light up at certain times, — processes which have only been explained to us by means of physical hypotheses that do not lead to any real understanding. Stars that were not there before, light up for a time, and disappear again. Thus in the Cosmos too there is a “stroking” of shorter duration. For it is true indeed that in epochs when divine Beings desire to work in an especial way from the astral world into the etheric, we behold new stars light up and fade away again.

"We ourselves in our own astral body have feelings of delight and comfort in the most varied ways. In like manner in the Cosmos, through the cosmic astral body, we have the varied configuration of the starry heavens. No wonder that an ancient science, instinctively clairvoyant, describes this third member of our human organism as the “astral” or “starry” body, seeing that it is of like nature with that which reveals itself to us in the stars.

"It is only the Ego that we do not find revealed in the cosmic environment. Why is this? We shall find the reason if we consider how this human Ego manifests here on the Earth, in a world that is in reality threefold, — physical, etheric and astral. The Ego of man, as it appears within the Universe, is ever and again a repetition of former lives on Earth; and again and again it finds itself in the life between death and a new birth. But when we observe the Ego in its life between death and a new birth, we perceive that the Etheric which we have here in the cosmic environment of the Earth has no significance for the human Ego. The etheric body is laid aside soon after death. It is only the astral world, that shines in towards us through the stars that has significance for the Ego in the life between death and a new birth. And in that world which glistens in towards us through the stars, in that world there live the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies with whom man forms his Karma between death and a new birth.

"Indeed, when we follow this Ego in its successive evolutions through lives between birth and death and between death and a new birth, we cannot remain within the world of Space at all. For two successive earthly lives cannot be within the same space. They cannot be within that Universe which is dependent on spatial co-existence. Here therefore we go right out of Space and enter into Time. This is actually so. We go out of Space and come into the pure flow of Time when we contemplate the Ego in its successive lives on Earth.

"Now consider this, my dear friends. In Space, Time is still present, of course, but within this world of Space we have no means of experiencing Time in itself. We always have to experience Time through Space and spatial processes. For example, if you wish to experience Time, you look at the clock, or, if you will, at the course of the sun. What do you see? You see the various positions of the hands of the clock or of the sun. You see something that is spatial. Through the fact that the positions of the hand or of the sun are changed, through the fact that spatial things are present to you as changing, you gain some idea of Time. But of Time itself there is really nothing in this spatial perception. There are only varied spatial configurations, varied positions of the hands of the clock, varied positions of the sun. You only experience Time itself when you come into the sphere of the soul's experience. There you do really experience Time, but there you also go out of Space. There, Time is a reality, but within the earthly world of Space, Time is no reality. What, then, must happen to us, if we would go out of the Space in which we live between birth and death and enter into the spacelessness in which we live between death and a new birth? What must we do? The answer is this: We must die!

"We must take these words in their exact and deep meaning. On Earth we experience Time only through Space — through points in Space, through the positions of spatial things. On Earth we do not experience Time in its reality at all. Once you grasp this, you will say: “Really to enter into Time we must go out of Space, we must put away all things spatial.” You can also express it in other words, for it is really nothing else than — to die. It means, in very deed and truth: to die.

"Let us now turn our eyes to this cosmic world that encircles the Earth — this cosmic world to which we are akin both through our etheric body, and also through our astral body — and let us look at the spiritual in this cosmic world. There have indeed been nations and human societies who have had regard only to the spiritual that is to be found within our earthly world of Space. Such peoples were unable to have any thoughts about repeated lives on Earth. Thoughts about repeated lives on Earth were possessed only by those human beings and groups that were able to conceive Time in its pure essence, Time in its spaceless character. But if we consider this earthly world together with its cosmic environment, or, to put it briefly, all that we speak of as the Cosmos, the Universe; and if we behold the spiritual manifest in it, we are then apprehending something of which it can be said that it had to be present in order that we might enter into our existence as earthly human beings; it had to be there."

( -- Rudolf Steiner: The Whitsuntide Festival, Its place in the study of Karma, Dornach, June 4, 1924, GA 353)

Rudolf Steiner

Time Being contra Space Being

Contrary to science fiction, with its main focus upon infinitely long journeys through outer, external space, anthroposophy on the other hand is based primarily upon the concept of man as a time being instead of a space being. One may argue, of course, that man is both of these in our four dimensional universe, i.e. three dimensional space moving through time, which then becomes the fourth dimension, but let's make a small paradigm shift from this orthodox orientation and send the whole thing off in a more esoteric, i.e. heretical, direction.

In order to clarify what I'm getting at here, it may be helpful to read my website article Star Trek and Anthroposophy, where I've explored a few episodes from the Original Series from this angle. (Also available at Southern Cross Review.)

What is science fiction really? There are several types of speculative fiction, but the idea of science may seem perplexing because it's so comprehensive. It implies not merely science, but science-and-technology, i.e. discoveries and inventions in connection with physical and chemical natural laws. A more appropriate and precise label for this literary genre would therefore be science and technology fiction instead of only science fiction.

After the first world war, the sci-fi genre has been dominated by the English-speaking world so overwhelmingly that one may almost call it a cultural monopoly: The British Isles, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This is undoubtedly linked to the fact that it would be very difficult to translate the term "science fiction" into any other language. For this reason I'll focus primarily upon science fiction written in English in the course of the last century.

The trend is of course much older. In the 15th and 16th centuries, when there were yet no steam engines and the practical use of electricity hadn't been discovered, Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) developed ideas about how people could make machines that would enable them to fly. And in the 19th century a man appeared in France whose name was Jules Verne, and who also had a remarkable ability to predict technological development.

Rudolf Steiner as science fiction thinker

This ability must also be ascribed to Rudolf Steiner. 106 years ago (December 23, 1904), he said the following in Berlin:
"A man standing here [in Berlin], let us say, will be able, by pressing a button concealed in his pocket, to [explode] some object at a great distance, let us say in Hamburg, just as wireless telegraphy is possible, by setting up a wave movement and causing it to take a particular form at some other place. This will be within man's power when the occult truth, that thought and atom consist of the same substance, is applied to practical life."

(The Temple Legend: Freemasonry & Related Occult Movements, Lecture 10: Evolution And Involution As They Are Interpreted By Occult Societies [The Atom As Congealed Electricity], Berlin, 23rd December 1904, GA 93)
Today we know how easy it is to push a key on a cell phone in one's pocket and cause an explosion anywhere on the planet by calling another cell phone attached to a bomb.

Steiner's vision with regard to future technological development was usually quite sinister. In the same lecture from 1904 he says:
"In the seventh post-Atlantean cultural epoch, to be precise, this War of All against All will break out, in the most terrible way. Great and mighty forces will ensue from discoveries that will turn the entire globe into a kind of self-functioning electrical apparatus."
Hello? Rudolf Steiner seems here to have described the technological globalization process we are living with today already, but the time he is talking about, when the seventh epoch has led to the War of All against All, lies at least seven thousand years ahead of us. Seven thousand years! Think from 5000 B.C. until today, how long that is. Think equally long into the future. With this in mind, it's astounding that those discoveries Steiner is referring to, seem to be going full blast already, although we haven't seen much of those great and mighty forces that should ensue from these discoveries, unless he had in mind nuclear power, which he described the same year and became reality only four decades later, not seven thousand years.

These riddles, however, are undoubtedly intimately connected with Western occultism, i.e. the special kind of occultism that is due to evolve in English-speaking countries during the next seven thousand years.

Rudolf Steiner rarely gives exact dates or suggests numbers of years for long epochs; he normally speaks only about measured time in connection with those centuries and decades that are closest behind us. Longer periods represent a problem when we try to figure them out in actual time as we know it. What we call a year is contingent upon the earth's path around the sun in the manner we understand this through Copernicus and Galileo; the exact duration of the year itself was discovered by the Romans who made a sophisticated calendar with leap years and all that.

But if we proceed beyond the present-day so-called Root Race into the sixth, i.e. after the War of All against All, which brings about the destruction of the entire epoch in the eighth millennium A.D. or something like that(?), we see that earler Root Races, namely Polaris, Hyperborea, and Lemuria before Atlantis, involved the separation of Saturn, Sun, and Moon (when earlier planetary manvantaras were repeated in miniature so to speak). So what other paradigm shifts in our solar system can be contributed by a future like that, which will also entail radical changes in our measurement of time?

This measurement of time is in itself relevant if we are to consider ourselves time beings instead of space beings, a topic I'll explore a little further as indicated. So I have made a small calculation based upon our present-day understanding of time by imagining a clock with millennia as units instead of seconds, minutes, and hours. In this manner I calculated that the duration of our entire cosmic evolution as described by Rudolf Steiner, from the beginning of Old Saturn to the end of Future Vulcan, shouldn't take more than 100,000,000 (a hundred million) years, including the Pralaya rest periods in between.

For me, this doesn't look logical. A hundred billion years are something I might go along with, but a hundred million years seems short for some reason. It proves however that we don't need to go very far before our measurements and calculations no longer apply. So let us stick with the time periods closer to home in connection with the very mechanization of the global community under American leadership, i.e. the so-called Mexican Mysteries at the beginning of our era. (I'll get into that in the next article.)

Manvantaras and Epochs

In ordinary science fiction, man is experienced as a space being, not a time being. Time is therefore appended upon space, it becomes an extension of space; time becomes external places one can travel to, therefore time travels. Outer space also extends across unimaginable distances that are overcome by means of warp speeds, teleporting, long hibernation etc.

In anthroposophy, it's not outer space but time itself that becomes unimaginably enormous. The planetary incarnations we are talking about here -- Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan -- comprise, for the sake of simplicity, seven entire Big Bangs. We find some of of this in Hinduism, a breathing universe, inhaling and exhaling. It exhales after each Big Bang, and the universe expands; this becomes a Manvantara or planetary period. Then the universe withdraws inwards and enters a Pralaya, or a rest period of very long duration. (The gods have all the time in the world.)

But still the shorter periods, the so-called epochs (Root Races) within each Manvantara, are for us unbelievably long, e.g. from the destruction of Atlantis to the War of All against All sometime in the eighth, ninth, or tenth millennium A.D. We may possibly look back at such a Great Epoch, or Root Race, that has lasted for 20,000 years. During this long epoch or root race, three great Cosmic Beings will have incarnated among humanity.

In order to get a certain grasp of future technological development and how this will influence man, change man, we need to think of ourselves as time beings. Let me paraphrase Steiner here: We associate death with the end of life, i.e. the end of our present incarnation. However, we die through our entire lives: The infant dies and becomes a toddler, the toddler dies and becomes a big girl or boy, the young person dies when reaching middle age, and the middle aged person dies when growing old. From this perspective, fear of death is totally meaningless; we can all look at pictures of ourselves from when we were children and recognize that the child we see in an old photograph does not exist anymore; it is dead. Besides, it so happens that when an Angel sees a human being, it sees the time being, not the space being. Regardless of what stage in life the human being happens to be, the Angel sees all these stages in one picture; it sees the child, the youth, the grown up, and the old. And that is how we are gradually learning to see each other.

From Intellect to Art

Another thing of importance that is often forgotten by people who are religious and spiritual, whether they are traditionalists or into New Age, is that non-physical beings, i.e. higher beings as well as humans who are not incarnated, do not think; they are not intellectual, because intellect or thinking is associated with physical brains. For this reason, such spiritual beings, including nature spirits, find it problematic to follow us into the world we create exclusively with our intellect, namely the world of technology. They can perceive how we experience ourselves there, but they themselves cannot penetrate into those regions. The only exceptions are the so-called ahrimanic elementary spirits who take up their abodes in our technical gadgets which wouldn't work without their energy. So in connection with technology, Rudolf Steiner talks about something he calls subnature.

We human beings are in other words deeply entrenched in this subnature, through technology with ahrimanic elementary beings. It is only they who are involved in what we call our intelligence, and for that reason, we we have been getting all kinds of meaningless and confused discussions about creation and the origin of life. Creationists and other theologically oriented individuals speak about "intelligent design" in nature. The design they are talking about has nothing to do with intelligence, but has everything to do with artistic talent. For this reason, one cannot talk about intelligent design in nature, but artistic design.

In GA 230, Man as Symphony of the Creative Word, first lecture held in Dornach 19th October, 1923, Rudolf Steiner says:
"I have often drawn attention to the fact that, if we are really to understand the world, we cannot remain at the stage of mere intellectual comprehension, but that what is intellectual must gradually change into an artistic conception of the world."
If we throw aside our notions about intellectuality and technology for just a moment, we find something of crucial significance in Steiner's statement about not comprehending the world in mere intellectual terms, but to change our understanding to a more artistic mode of thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing. Steiner talks about how nature and everything that lives was created through cosmic tones, through compositions. Creation, cosmogenesis, astrogenesis -- these things don't belong to the intellect, intelligence and laboratories and analyses of the primordial chemical soup, but to the world of art.

At this point we arrive at the condition of consciousness that outstanding composers, painters, poets, sculptors etc. are developing towards, namely where one can hear colors and see tones. At that point one is inside the etheric. John Lennon came up with some interesting statements here. His favorite author was Lewis Carroll, who was mainly inspired by the fantasy world of young girls, in the doll houses and gardens and so on. In Carroll, Lennon saw the most ingenious author of the age, and many of his songs were influenced by him.

When mixing musical recordings in the studio to make arrangements and so on, John Lennon seems to have been the first to experiment seriously with playing things backwards. One of Rudolf Steiner's exercises consists precisely of thinking through the events of the day in backwards sequence in the evening, or one may take a work of art like a stage play and think it backwards, because on the other side of the threshold, one's own life is experienced in backwards sequence after death. John Lennon took an interest in in playing musical pieces backwards, and one of his most beautiful compositions -- "Because" -- was born after Yoko Ono had been playing the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven on the piano. One of the lines in the lyrics goes like this: "Because the sky is blue, it makes me cry."

John Lennon

Take his contemporary Bob Dylan, who is not only a composer and a poet, but such a good painter he has had exhibitions where his paintings have been positively appraised by critical art experts. In addition, he has been working with photography and cinematography. Leonard Nimoy is, in addition to being an eminent actor and director, also a composer and photographer. Artists of this ilk usually shun labels and definitions with regard to philosophies and religions, and this tends to confuse intellectuals who insist upon knowing whether a person is a Christian or a Jew or agnostic or whatever.

Anthroposophy as a Drug

Some people may want to object, when anthroposophy is linked to science fiction, that anthroposophy is compromised when presented as entertainment. What we're talking about is a spiritual science that's supposed to teach us to take life seriously, understand our cosmic duties, and not waste our time on fun and games, and at least not treat anthroposophy like a Saturday night toy.

And yet, many people do just that, and it's always been that way. When Steiner began his lecturing activities in 1900 or 1901 or whenever it was, he got a regular audience comprised of what may be called old German hippies from the 19th century. The men had long hair too, and this frightened Friedrich Rittelmeyer so much that his first impulse was to run away. But these German hippies -- aging librarians, schoolteachers, bookworms, etc. -- they had first been enjoying the works of Helena Blavatsky, which are far from easy reading but excellent science fiction that Henrik Ibsen also studied to the best of my knowledge, and Steiner's lectures carried them up into remote cosmic heights, from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan, from the hierarchy of the minerals beneath us to the Cherubim and the Seraphim far, far above us, about the War in Heaven behind a layer of meteorite dust that can still be seen, about the Powers of Darkness that were hurled down to Earth here amongst us and that we therefore confront on a daily basis.

For some of Steiner's regular followers, this wasn't mere entertainment or story telling. It became a drug; they sat there through lecture after lecture and got high on Steiner. This hadn't been the intention exactly. His lectures were supposed to wake people up, not lull them to sleep. It was pointed out to Steiner that some of his listeners just sat there and allowed his entertainment to intoxicate them, and he simply answered that he was aware of the situation; there was hardly anything else he could do, because it's up to each individual to be activated and inspired instead of using the material as some kind of sleep medicine.

Rudolf Steiner's Humanism

All kinds of occult, spiritual, and religious literature often have a lulling, pacifying, narcotic effect upon those who get hooked on that kind of reading. And there are undoubtedly many people who read and read Steiner until they stop thinking independently and critically; instead, they lean upon some authority or other that's doing all the thinking for them and serve the solutions to all the world riddles on a platter.

It was for this reason, especially in the 1890's, following the epistemology he had developed in Truth and Science and The Philosophy of Freedom, that Rudolf Steiner detested religious theologians and embraced instead materialistic atheists, especially rabid anarchists, because they had arrived at their philosophical views through the power of their own thinking instead of passive consumption of other people's efforts.

A major idea of mine behind this topic of science fiction and anthroposophy, is that one of the many creative projects one may embark upon when reading Steiner is to allow oneself to be inspired to write better science fiction, to raise the genre to a level that can contribute to transforming this type of literature into a powerful impulse for the future. Here we have many masterpieces as models, and I'm not just talking about Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which is an unrivalled achievement in spite of the fact that this particular genre is better categorized as fairy tale and fantasy than science fiction, and George Lucas' Star Wars saga. Tolkien was a Catholic and Lucas calls himself a Methodist-Buddhist; my point is that anthroposophy is an unprecedented and unique pearl among spiritual inspirations.

There are however also other great classics that have not been inspired by any spiritual or religious influence whatsoever because the authors were agnostics or atheists. A background like that is ideal because man himself is thereby rendered naked in the universe and has to stand fully and completely on his own feet with no divine apron strings to cling to.

In the tenth chapter of The Philosophy of Freedom: Freedom — Philosophy and Monism, Steiner writes:
"The moral laws which the metaphysician who works by mere inference must regard as issuing from a higher power, are, for the adherent of monism, thoughts of men; for him the moral world order is neither the imprint of a purely mechanical natural order, nor that of an extra-human world order, but through and through the free creation of men. It is not the will of some being outside him in the world that man has to carry out, but his own; he puts into effect his own resolves and intentions, not those of another being. Monism does not see, behind man's actions, the purposes of a supreme directorate, foreign to him and determining him according to its will, but rather sees that men, in so far as they realize their intuitive ideas, pursue only their own human ends. Moreover, each individual pursues his own particular ends. For the world of ideas comes to expression, not in a community of men, but only in human individuals. What appears as the common goal of a whole group of people is only the result of the separate acts of will of its individual members, and in fact, usually of a few outstanding ones who, as their authorities, are followed by the others. Each one of us has it in him to be a free spirit, just as every rose bud has in it a rose."
This is pure, unadulterated humanism. For this reason, one may wonder why some humanists have declared war against anthroposophy. One gets the impression that for many of those who are closely connected with the Humanist and Ethical Union, the ethical principle of placing the human being center stage is less important than the members' personal faith in atheism as a religion. It is in fact quite a feat by Steiner to actually harmonize his individualist anarchist humanism with a thoroughly hierarchical theism, namely Christology and the spiritual hierarchies -- something that seems to have the same effect upon atheists that one gets when waving a red flag in front of from a raging bull.

Western Occultism

Malignant or evil secret lodges and conspiracies belong to a different topic that I may attempt to discuss in a future article if I get around to it. The same is the case with the United States itself, which is extremely comprehensive and intimately linked to the former. I'll only touch upon some of this stuff in passing, to the extent that science fiction and technology are concerned.

In GA 186 we find a remarkable lecture from December 1, 1918, with the indigestible title, Die Entwickelung mechanischer, eugenetischer und hygienischer okkulter Fähigkeiten in der Zukunft -- in English: The Mechanistic, Eugenic, and Hygienic Aspects of the Future. What Rudolf Steiner describes here in the highly significant year of 1918, are the endeavors on the other side of the threshold, through the evil lodges of the West, to secure British-American dominion over the East, and "by the East," says Steiner in this lecture, "I mean the whole region lying from the Rhine eastward even into Asia." "The goal striven for," Steiner continues, "is to establish a caste of masters in the West and a caste of economic slaves in the East, beginning with the Rhine and extending eastward all the way into Asia." And: "The essence of the matter is to make the English-speaking peoples into a population of masters in the world."

After that, Steiner gets into the extremely long term occult motives behind this strategy. These motives have to do with special forces that man will have at his disposal in his future evolution. We're talking about different types of powers that will evolve in various populations on the planet. These lodges are attempting to steal these forces away from other populations to be owned exclusively by the West, while at the same time trying to prevent non-Western populations from acquiring these occult talents.

And here we have the relevance of all this to science fiction and technology: The capacity for which the English-speaking peoples are destined, is called material occultism. Rudolf Steiner says:
"By means of this capacity -- and this is precisely the ideal of the British secret societies -- certain social forms at present basic within the industrial system shall be set up on an entirely different foundation. Every knowing member of these secret circles is aware that, solely by means of certain capacities that are still latent but evolving in man, and with the help of the law of harmonious oscillations, machines and mechanical constructions and other things can be set in motion.

"These things are at present in process of development. They are guarded as secrets within those secret circles in the field of material occultism. Motors can be set in motion, into activity, by an insignificant human influence through a knowledge of the corresponding curve of oscillation. By means of this principle it will be possible to substitute merely mechanical forces for human forces in many things. The possibility will thus come about of rendering unnecessary nine-tenths of the work of individuals within the regions of the English-speaking peoples. Mechanistic occultism will not only render it possible to do without nine-tenths of the labor still performed at present by human hands, but will give the possibility also of paralyzing every uprising attempted by the then dissatisfied masses of humanity.

"The capacity to set motors in motion according to the laws of reciprocal oscillations will develop on a great scale among the English-speaking peoples. This is known in their secret circles, and is counted upon as the means whereby the mastery over the rest of the population of the earth shall be achieved even in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch."
After this description of material occultism which is evolving among the English-speaking peoples, Steiner also talks about two other types of occultism that are evolving in the East, and about the methods employed by the evil lodges of the West for the purpose of hindering these other developments.

What we should pay attention to here is what Steiner says about capacities that are latent, i.e. not yet developed but in development, and that initiated, knowing people, i.e. initiates belonging to evil lodges in the English-speaking world, are abusing this knowledge.

GA 186 is explored to some extent in an article I wrote an article in 1997: The Secret Lodges Of The West And Their Sinister Plans With The World Population, with the summary: "An outline of the anthroposophical conspiracy theory with extensive quotes from Rudolf Steiner. How top secret occult fraternities in England and America is endeavoring to manipulate the spiritual evolution of humanity."

Something else that comes into consideration here, and that actually belongs to apocalypticism on a large scale, are the activities of Sorat, the Sun Demon, who stands behind the mystical number 666 in the Revelation of St. John. This Sun Demon is probably the most powerful of all demons ever mentioned by Steiner, a Being whose influence will be tremendous in a relatively distant future, when this power will make it possible for a certain section of humanity to descend very, very deeply into evil.

One of Sorat's modes of operation consists of introducing anachronistic elements into human evolution, especially by accelerating intellectual and technical development in such a manner that some discoveries and inventions occur much too early with regard to the moral and spiritual maturity of humanity. This is something we recognize from Rudolf Steiner's lectures, especially GA 346, about The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest, apparently the last lecture cycle he was able to complete in December 1924 before he became bedridden.

Here he describes Sorat's strikes against the Earth every 666 years, with increasing strength each time. The first strike took place in Jundi Shapur in 666 A.D. and brought, among other things, a materialistic science that was far ahead of its time, in an epoch when human beings did not yet possess the inner strength to endure such materialism without buckling under for it completely. According to Steiner, the worst consequences of this Arabic materialistic science in Jundi Shapur were blunted by the arrival of Islam, but 666 years after 666 A.D., namely in 1332 A.D., Sorat struck again with considerably increased power, this time through a certain niche in Catholicism, which led to the torture and total destruction of the Knights Templars, the Spanish Inquisition that followed a century later and so forth.

666 years after 1332, Sorat strikes for the third time with even greater strength in 1998. This time we have seen a lot of ugly torture by the West, not only through the most infamous and publicized examples through Guatanamo Bay and the Abu Graib prison in Iraq; the ugliest example to become known has taken place in Uzbekistan, where very few people survived arrests and imprisonment, and some of them were actually boiled alive.

The British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray was fired by his government because he complained about this; after that the attempt was made to discredit him with allegations of pedophelia and other things. The point is that the extreme reaction to Craig's disclosures of conditions in Uzbekistan came from the highest levels of the British and American governments.

This stuff belongs to a topic that's different from the content of this article, but it has undoubtedly a connection with the Sun Demon Sorat's third strike in 1998. Interestingly, in the eighth lecture in the aforementioned volume GA 186, September 12, 1924, in Dornach, Rudolf Steiner says the following about Sorat's preparation for his third strike in the aftermath of the first world war:
"The trail is being blazed for the entry of the demons, the adherents of the great Demon Sorat. To gain an idea of this you only need to speak to people who understand something of what led to the World War. It is fair to say that of the approximately 40 people who are guilty of causing that war, almost all were in a state of lowered consciousness at the moment when it broke out. Such a state of consciousness is always a way in for ahrimanic demonic powers, and one of the greatest of these demons is Sorat."
It is extraordinarily interesting that Sorat is described here as belonging to Ahriman's hierarchy, a hierarchy that has its origin far away from our own solar system and the progressive hierarchies above us that we belong to. But let us assume for a moment that one of Sorat's present-day influences consists of giving us even more future technology at a much earlier stage -- only as an anthroposophical thought experiment. As already mentioned, Rudolf Steiner said in 1904, in GA 93:
"In the seventh post-Atlantean cultural epoch, to be precise, this War of All against All will break out, in the most terrible way. Great and mighty forces will ensue from discoveries that will turn the entire globe into a kind of self-functioning electrical apparatus."
Let us add a short quote from GA 186:
"The people of the East and those of the Central countries will have to receive material occultism from the West. They will receive its benefits, its products."
In other words, outside the English-speaking countries, we will have all kinds of products imposed upon us as passive consumers. What kind of products are we talking about here? Steiner speaks about the seventh post-Atlantic epoch, or Sub Race, that lies many millennia ahead in time, but it looks like we have already been getting a good sneak 'premorsel' of this. It's fascinating what you can buy in stores today, and on the internet. Many technological innovations start with games, and a few years ago a new headset came on the market that makes it possible top play without mouse, keyboard, or joystick, but with thoughts alone.

Emotiv Headset

When this can be done with computer games, the technology may of course be made applicable to other everyday functions, even useful tasks. Ever since the nerds took over the role of innovation in the 1970's from the stiff, rigid, and regimented IBM, fun and games have been the main foundation for technological inventions. So what can this headset be used for, which is wired to the forehead to read EEG impulses from the brain and send these as commands to computer software? It means that we won't need to fool around with all those remote controls; instead, we can simply use the power of thought to turn on the TV set, increase the volume, change channels, unlock and start the car (no ignition key needed), switch on the light, the washing machine, the stove and so on.

The creators of this technology have figured out that many people won't bother to walk around with a gadget like that on their heads all day long. For this reason, they have developed an alternative, namely a microchip implant: A little chip in the head, made by Intel, the world's major manufacturer of microchips.

Here is a relevant news item from November 2009, with the headline, Intel wants a chip implant in your brain:
"Intel believes its customers would be willing to have a chip implanted in their brains so they could operate computers without the need for a keyboard or mouse using thoughts alone. The implant could also be used to operate devices such as cell phones, TVs and DVDs."
The application of such technology by itself has of course nothing to do with occultism. The information emitted through EEG signals and nerve impulses from the brain is simply translated into signals that can be read by software as commands. (The brain sensing chips are not yet available, but the researchers say they are very close.)

However, when we read what Rudolf Steiner said about Western material occultism in this fifth post-Atlantean cultural epoch, i.e. another 1500 years into the future more or less, it is easy to assume a connection here. Let's repeat what Steiner said in GA 186:
"Every knowing member of these secret circles is aware that, solely by means of certain capacities that are still latent but evolving in man, and with the help of the law of harmonious oscillations, machines and mechanical constructions and other things can be set in motion."
"By means of this principle it will be possible to substitute merely mechanical forces for human forces in many things."

"The capacity to set motors in motion according to the laws of reciprocal oscillations will develop on a great scale among the English-speaking peoples. This is known in their secret circles, and is counted upon as the means whereby the mastery over the rest of the population of the earth shall be achieved even in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch."

The Brain and Initiation

Now the question arises: What should we human beings do in order not to be dominated and manipulated as passive consumers of technological products, to be pulled deeper and deeper down into subnature and be made into slaves -- not by machines through technological singularity, which is an illusion, but by evil initiates in the West when they apply their mighty and powerful forces to complete the development that is already active?

The answer seems undoubtedly to lie in Rudolf Steiner's suggestions about how to labor in the direction of clairvoyance and initiation. Mark the words "in the direction of." It is about gaining complete mastery and control of thoughts, feelings, and impulses. Learning to refrain from speaking or writing things that have not been thoroughly purged in thought. This discipline alone can be extremely challenging for many of us, but in the long run it gives us increased control over the configurations and convolutions of the brain. All psychological impulses and activities, i.e. thinking, feeling, and willing, must be conquered and controlled by the 'I'. An enormously demanding and exacting task that has now become more necessary than ever before.

I'll conclude this article with a couple of outstanding excerpts that illustrate "anthroposophical science fiction" at its very best:

The Spiritual Hierarchies, Lecture 10, Dusseldorf 18th April, 1909 (GA 110):
"In the time between the Jupiter and the Mars development — if I dare express myself in trivial words — a number of Beings from the sphere of the Mights or Spirits of Motion were detached; they were placed in such a manner within the course of evolution that, instead of helping it onwards, they had to put hindrance in its way. Thus the deeds of — if I may coin the word — ‘adversely-commanded’ Mights were thrown athwart the course of evolution. For the ruling world-powers of the Hierarchies said to themselves: ‘Never could that arise which has to arise if the way were always smooth. Greater things must take place.’ Imagine that you have a car to push. You develop your strength by pushing it. If heavy ballast is put into the car it will be heavier to push, but you would develop greater strength. Suppose the Godhead had let the world's evolution remain as it was, up to the time just after the Jupiter evolution, men could have certainly developed very well; but humanity could have become still stronger if hindrance had been in its way. For the good of humanity, certain Mights or Spirits of Motion had to receive adverse commands. These were not evil at first, one need not consider them as evil Powers, one might even say they sacrificed themselves by putting obstacles into the way of development. Therefore, these Mights may be called the gods of hindrance, of impediment, in the widest sense of the word. They are the gods of the impediments and hindrances placed in the way, on the high-road of development. And from that moment, the possibility was given for all that was achieved in the future. These ‘adversely-commanded’ Mights were not yet evil in themselves; on the contrary, they were the great promoters of development, promoting it through the storms they produced, but they were the breeders of evil; for, out of the storms they produced, evil gradually arose.

"Naturally, the path of development of these ‘adversely-commanded’ Mights shaped itself quite differently from that of their brothers; their action was quite different, and the result was that, during the Moon-development, they became the tempters, the seducers, of those beings we call Angels. The Angels were passing through their human stage during the Moon development. There were Angel-men on the Moon who, so to speak, looked at the way the hindrances acted on development, and who said to themselves: ‘We can now put ourselves in the way of conquering the hindrances, we can plunge into the whole stream of the Moon's evolution; but we prefer to pass it by, we do not want to plunge into it, we want to remain above with the good Gods.’ These Angels tore themselves away, at a certain moment of the Moon's development, from the Mights who were throwing hindering influence down into the Moon-evolution. But there were other Angels who said to themselves: ‘We will not follow our brothers, for if we follow them, development would turn back, nothing new would be embodied in it.’ Just because of the existence of these hindering influences, something new was infused into evolution, from the time of the Moon onwards. Those Beings who said to themselves: ‘I shall have nothing to do with that which is going on down there, I shall stay with the Mights who do not wish to be tainted by anything low,’ these withdrew from the mass of the Moon and became part of the followers of all that is connected with the Sun. They would not have anything to do with what was proceeding on the forsaken Moon, when all the hindering powers held sway. But the other Beings who plunged down into it, had now to take into their bodily nature; (which they received on the Moon) all the hindering influences that existed there. They had to harden themselves more, as it were, than would otherwise have been the case. Their bodily sheaths became denser than they would otherwise have been. In their bodies were implanted the consequences of the deeds of the Mights, but these deeds were well rooted in the divine plan of the world — we must keep that well in mind. A further result of this was, that as the Moon development passed on into that of the Earth, the whole process was repeated, and those Beings who had plunged into the full tide of the Moon's development, remained behind those who would have nothing to do with it, and others remained still further back, and were attracted by the retrograding development. The result of all this was, that during the earth evolution Angel-men existed, who were advanced, and others who were retrograde.

"The advanced Angel-men approached the men of the earth during the time, when, in Lemuria, they were ripe to receive the germ of the human ‘I,’ and gave them the choice, as it were, to rise into the spiritual worlds, then, and not to have anything further to do with that which since the time of the Moon, had mingled with the course of the world's development. The Beings who had stayed behind, whom we call the Luciferic beings, came into touch with the human astral body — they could not approach the ‘I’ — and grafted into that astral body all the results of the fight in heaven. While to the Mights was assigned the fight in heaven, for they were created Gods of Hindrance; the consequences of their deeds now slipped into the human astral body, and there signified something else; they signified the possibility of error and the possibility of evil. Man had now been given the possibility of error and of evil with the object that he should also have the possibility of rising above evil and error, through his own strength.

"Now consider that such Beings as the Mights, belonging to the second threefold Hierarchy, could not have had the power to become evil of their own free will; they had to be ‘adversely-commanded;’ and it was the Beings of the third threefold Hierarchy, and only those who stand nearest to man, the Angels, who first had it in their power to follow, or not to follow, the hindering Powers. Those who did not follow we always find represented in the pictures which illustrate the victories fought out in heaven. They express what happened during the Moon development, when Man had progressed as far as the organisation of his astral body, that is to the human-animal stage. Then those Angel beings who, so to speak, remained good, tore themselves away from the course of the Moon development, they escaped from what was going on down there, on the Moon. And this picture is represented to the Soul of man in different ways. It was originally represented in the fight of Michael with the dragon. You see it also in the symbol of the Bull of Mithra, where it is specially clearly expressed. It is, of course, not meant that in doing this these Angel Beings avoided their duty, but they were put forth as an ideal for the future. ‘These beings’ — it was said — ‘preferred to rise into the spiritual worlds, whereas you have descended. Other beings came down with you, those who followed the Powers of Hindrance. You must now work upon that which you have absorbed in this descent, and carry it up again into the spiritual world; when you rise again you must become a Michael, a conqueror of the Bull.’ For every symbol of this kind is used in a twofold sense.

"Thus we see that, because those ‘Mights’ were given certain orders, men first received the possibility of reaching their goal by their own strength, a thing which even the highest Seraphim cannot do of themselves. This is very essential. The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones cannot do otherwise than follow the immediate impulses given them by the Godhead. The Dominions of the second threefold hierarchy, too, cannot do otherwise. A certain number of the Mights were ordered to oppose, so that those Mights also, who, as it were, threw themselves into the way of development, could not do otherwise than follow the orders of the Godhead. In what is called the ‘origin of evil’ they could but perform the will of the Godhead who, by means of evil, wishes to develop more powerful good. Now let us descend to those Beings we call the Powers or Spirits of Form. They also could not have come to this of themselves. They could not have grown wicked of themselves, nor could the Spirits of Personality, nor could the Spirits of Fire. For, when these were men on the Sun, the Mights had not yet been ordered to oppose, there was as yet no possibility of becoming wicked. The first who had the possibility of becoming evil were the Angels, for this could only happen after the development of the Moon. There, from the Sun to the Moon, the Fight in Heaven took place. A part of the Angels avoided this possibility, they would not be seduced by the forces which had to introduce hindrances, they held to the way of the old Nature. Thus, as far down as the Angels, or part of them, we have Beings who are absolutely unable to do otherwise than follow the divine Will. It is essential to remember this."
In a lecture entitled Exoteric and Esoteric Christianity, GA 211, April 2nd 1922 in Dornach, Rudolf Steiner gives a fascinating and clear description of Ahriman's entry into human evolution -- another example of "anthroposophical science fiction" at its best:
"The higher hierarchies contain in their being the forces that have formed Saturn, the Sun, the Moon and finally the Earth. If the higher hierarchies had expressed their teachings amongst themselves, as it were, up to the Mystery of Golgotha, they would have said: We can form the Earth out of Saturn, Sun and Moon. But if the Earth were to contain only what we have placed into Saturn, Sun and Moon it would never have been able to develop beings who know something about death, and can therefore develop the intellect within them. We, the higher hierarchies, are able to let an Earth proceed out of the Moon, on which there are men who know nothing of death, and on which they cannot develop the intellect. It is not possible for us, higher hierarchies, to form the Earth in such a way that it is able to supply the forces which lead man towards the intellect. We must rely, for this, on an entirely different being, on a being who comes from another direction than our own — The Ahrimanic Being. Ahriman is a being who does not belong to our hierarchy. Ahriman comes into the stream of evolution from another direction. If we tolerate Ahriman in the evolution of the Earth, if we allow him a share in it, he brings us death, and with it, the intellect, and we can take up in the human being death and intellect. Ahriman knows death, because he is at one with the Earth and has trodden paths which have brought him into connection with the evolution of the Earth. He is an initiate, a sage of death, and for this reason he is the ruler of the intellect. The gods had to reckon with Ahriman — if I may express it in this way. They had to say: the evolution cannot proceed without Ahriman. It is only a question of admitting Ahriman into the evolution. But if Ahriman is admitted and becomes the lord of death and, consequently, of the intellect too, we forfeit the Earth, and Ahriman, whose sole interest lies in permeating the Earth with intellect, will claim the Earth for himself. The gods faced the great problem of losing to a certain extent their rule over the Earth in favour of Ahriman. There was only one possibility — that the gods themselves should learn to know something which they could not learn in their godly abodes which were not permeated by Ahriman — namely, that the gods should learn to know death itself, on the Earth, through one of their emissaries — the Christ. A god had to die on earth, and he had to die in such a way that this was not grounded in the wisdom of the gods, but in the human error which would hold sway if Ahriman alone were to rule. A god had to pass through death and he had to overcome death.

"Thus the Mystery of Golgotha meant this for the gods: a greater wealth of knowledge through the wisdom of death. If a god had not passed through death, the whole Earth would have become entirely intellectual, without ever reaching the evolution which the gods had planned for it from the very beginning."

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