One faculty being acquired at the expense of another

Evolution consists in one faculty being acquired at the expense of another, and thus as the epochs took their course, the faculty which man once possessed of understanding the spiritual world became less and less. Our clear reasoning and cognitional faculties, our present logical thinking which we regard as the most important feature of modern culture — these did not exist in those early times. They had to be developed by man in the epoch to which we now belong, at the expense of the old clairvoyant consciousness. Clairvoyant consciousness will have to be cultivated again in the future evolution of mankind, but in a different way. It has to be added to the purely physical consciousness that is bound up with the faculty of intellectual logic. A rising and a falling can be traced in the evolution of human consciousness and we see therein a deep purpose in man’s development.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 60 – Zarathustra – Berlin, 19th January 1911

Translated by Walter F. Knox

Previously posted on February 13, 2015


One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time

Just as there are definite stages in the evolution of the individual human being, just as the nature of his powers and faculties differs in childhood, middle life and old age, so too are the powers and faculties possessed by humanity in general constantly changing in the course of evolution. Not to take account of the fact that the character of humanity is different in the 20th century from what it was in the 15th century, let alone before and at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, is to sleep through the process of world-evolution. One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time, is its failure to pay heed to this, as well as the prevalent notion that it is possible to speak of man or of humanity in terms of abstract generalisations, that there is no need to regard humanity as being involved in a continuous process of evolution.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 182 –The Work of the Angels In Man’s Astral Body – Zurich, 9th October, 1918

Translated by Dorothy S. Osmond & Owen Barfield

Previously posted on October 1, 2014

A man without ideals is a man without power

To understand the development of humanity, it must be viewed in its whole range. Only so can we see its high ideal. To believe that an ideal is not necessary for action is a great error. A man without ideals is a man without power. The function of an ideal in life is like that of steam in an engine. Steam comprises in a small area a vast expanse of ‘condensed space’ — hence its tremendous power of expansion. The magic power of thought is of the same nature. Let us then rise to the thought of the ideal of humanity as a whole, guided by the thread of its evolution through the epochs of time.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 – An Esoteric Cosmology – II – The Mission of Manicheism – Paris, 26th May 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on January 11, 2016

Destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good

We have seen how the separate planets, the separate bodies of our cosmic system, arise from a common original substance, and have recognized that spiritual beings of various kinds are active in all this evolution. We have pointed out too in former lectures how spiritual science does not see merely physical material objects in the bodies of our cosmic system, but linked with the physical and material, spiritual beings of various grades. These may be beings of the most exalted order who raise evolution, thus benefiting the whole system, or they may be spiritual beings of a lower kind who hinder and destroy. Yet we must be clear that what seems to be hindrance and destruction is in the long run again membered into the wisdom of the whole system. One might therefore say: When something apparently destructive, retarding and evil exists anywhere, then evolution in its whole course will be so wisely guided that even this evil, this destruction and hindrance will be reversed and changed into the good.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 102 – The Influence of Spiritual Beings on Man: Lecture IV– Berlin, 29th February 1908

Man has evolved at the cost of the surrounding world

We see in nature the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms; man has the qualities of all these kingdoms within him. The form and cohesion of the minerals;  the life of the plant; and the feeling and power of inner life of the animal kingdom, man is the sum total of them.

He has attained his evolution and powers at their cost.  Originally animals were more perfect. Man’s ascent was brought about by their descent. In this way the human kingdom has risen. […]

If a saint develops it means the pushing down of other beings; he will make good and redeem those others. This idea gives sympathy with the entire Cosmos. Man in raising himself must desire to raise and redeem others, for he has evolved at the cost of the whole surrounding world.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA unknown – Evolution of Human Freedom and Personal Consciousness/Concerning the Concepts of God – Dusseldorf, January 19th, 1905