Anthroposophical Guidelines - Guidelines Intermezzo VII
The Pre-Michaelic and the Michael Path
One will not be able to see in the right light how the Michael impulse entered into human evolution if one thinks about the relationship between the new ideas and nature in the way which is usual today.
One thinks: out there is nature with its processes and beings; within - there are the ideas which describe concepts about nature or also the so-called laws of nature. For the thinkers it's all about how the ideas are formed which have a correct relation to nature or contain the true laws of nature.
Little importance is given to how these ideas relate to the person who has them. Nevertheless, one will only understand what is important when the question is asked: What does man experience in the new natural-scientific ideas?
The answer may be found in the following way.
Today man considers that his ideas have arisen through the activity of his soul [mind]. He feels that he is the architect of his ideas, whereas only the perceptions come to him from without.
He did not always feel this way. In older times he did not feel that the content of ideas was self-made, but rather something received as inspiration from the supersensible world.
This feeling came by stages. And the stages depended upon which part of his being experienced what he calls his ideas today. In today's age of consciousness soul development, what is stated in the previous guidelines is unreservedly valid: "Thoughts have their actual seat in the human etheric body. But there they are living essential forces. They impress themselves on the physical body. And as such `impressed thoughts' they have the shadowy quality through which normal consciousness knows them."
One could go back to the time when thoughts were directly experienced in the "I". Then they were not shadowy as today; they weren't merely living; they were ensouled and thoroughly spiritualized. But that means: Man did not think thoughts; rather he experienced the perception of actual spiritual beings.
Everywhere in antiquity one would find a consciousness which looked up to such a world of spiritual beings. What has been historically retained of this is called myth-building consciousness today, and no particular value is attributed to it for understanding the real world. Yet man stands with this consciousness in his world, in the world of his origin, while he extracts himself from this, his world with today's consciousness.
Man is spirit. And his world is that of the spirits.
A next stage is where thinking was no longer experienced by the "I", but by the astral body. Here direct spirituality was lost to the mind's view. Thought appeared as an ensouled living thing.
During the first stage, that of seeing actual spiritual beings, man did not strongly feel the need to relate what was spiritually seen to the sense-perceptible world. Although the sensory phenomena manifested themselves to him as supersensible acts, there was no necessity to create a special science for what the "spiritual view" directly perceived. Furthermore, the spiritual beings' world was of such magnitude that attention was directed there above all.
It was different during the second consciousness stage, when the actual spiritual beings hid themselves from view; their reflection, as ensouled life, appeared. One began to associate the "life of nature" with this "life of soul". One sought the active spiritual essence and its deeds in nature and natural phenomena. What later appeared as alchemy is to be seen as an historical echo of this consciousness stage.
Just as man "thought" spirit-beings during the first consciousness stage, living completely in his being, in this second stage he was still close to himself and his spiritual origins.
It was quite impossible at both stages for him to really arrive at his own inner impulse to action.
A spirituality which is of his own nature acted in him. What he seemed to do was the manifestation of processes which occurred through spiritual beings. What the person did was the sensory-physical emergence of a real divine-spiritual occurrence behind it.
A third epoch of consciousness evolution brought thoughts to consciousness, but as living ones in the etheric body.
When the Greek civilization was great it lived in this consciousness. When the Greek thought he did not form a thought through which he, as if of his own shaping, looked at the world. Rather he felt a life evoked which also pulsated externally in things and processes.
Therewith the desire for freedom of his own actions arose for the first time; not yet true freedom, but the desire for it.
Man, who felt the actions of nature within him, was able to develop the desire to emancipate his own activity from an activity he perceived to be a foreign to him. Nevertheless, he still felt the last vestiges of the spirit-world which is of the same nature as man in exterior activity.
It was only once the thoughts impregnated themselves in the physical body and consciousness only extended to this limit, was the possibility of freedom realized. This was the situation during the fifteenth century.
The evolution of the world does not depend on the what importance the current ideas about nature may have; for these ideas have not taken the form they have in order to deliver a certain image of nature, but to bring humanity to a certain stage of development.
When thoughts captured the physical body - spirit, soul and life were excised from their content; and the abstract shadows which clung to the physical body alone remained. Such thoughts can only make physical-material elements the objects of their cognition. For they themselves are only real in the physical-material body of man.
Materialism did not arise because only material beings and processes are perceivable in nature, but because man had to pass through a stage in his evolution which led him to a consciousness in which he was initially only capable of seeing material manifestations. This necessary one-sided organization of human evolution resulted in the modern conception of nature.
Michael's mission is to bring the forces to human etheric bodies through which the shadow-thoughts can regain life; then the souls and spirits of the supersensible world will be drawn towards the invigorated thoughts; liberated man will be able to live with them, as formerly man, who was only the physical reflection of their activity, lived with them.
(Translated by Frank Thomas Smith, http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/anthroposophy_world/ )
102. At the moment during sleep in which the astral body and the I sever their relation to the etheric body's thoughts, they enter into relation with "karma" to envisioning the events throughout repeated earth-lives. This envisioning is not open to normal consciousness - [unless] a super-sensible consciousness enters it.