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The Three Streams of Evolution

Rudolph Steiner essentially saw three main streams of spiritual evolution:

The Ahrimanic stream, the force of  materialism and cutting off from the spiritual worlds, works to make things more heavy and dense, until eventually the world becomes so dense that man, and particularily the new man, the spiritual  man of the future evolutionary stages, is unable to  exist on it.

The Luciferic stream is the opposite.  It strives to prevent man from incarnating on the Earth (the true theatre of divine evolution) by creating secondary worlds that are so attractive that people don't want to incarnate on the Earth.  The Chinese Buddhist concept of the Western Paradise of Amitaba or of Kuan Yin is a good example of this.  So bodies will be born without spirits, because all the spirits are in the Western Heaven (metaphorically speaking).  This would prevent the Earth from having humanity on it; humanity being precisely the carrier of the Christ impulse which is to bring about the spiritualisation of the Earth.

If the double machinations of Lucifer and Ahriman were to succeed, the world would become hard  and devoid of spirit, and would enter a different phase of evolution to the one the Gods intended: the Eighth Sphere rather than the Jupiter stage.  (The term "Eighth Sphere" is derived from Theosophists  like Leadbeater, who refer to a lower and unpleasant realm - a sort of hell or underworld - beneath the seven normal planes of evolution).

Which brings us finally to the Divine stream of evolution, represented in our present cosmic age by Christ, is the central impetus behind not just spiritual but even physical evolution.  It is the Spirits of Form which in previous cycles (Old Saturn, Old Sun, etc) gave man his physical, etheric and astral bodies, and in this present Earth era - where they constitute collectively the Cosmic Christ - have provided him with the ego or self-consciousness, which in Steiner's system is equivalent to the Christian concept of soul.

The theme that humanity is the carrier of the Christ  impulse necessary for the spiritualisation of the Earth was the cornerstone of Steiner's teachings.  But he is not unique in having expressed the idea that we can embody the divine impulse and so aid in the conscious and spiritual, and indeed  spiritualising the world.  The Lurianic Kabbalists and their Sabbatean and Hassidic successors were inspired by precisely this same vision: that through the appropriate spiritual acts and spiritual consciousness man is able to aid in the redemption of the cosmos.  It could even be suggested that the current ecological trend: the importance that the Earth be healthy, is a collective and social expression of this consciousness that was previously expressed only on an individual or family level.

Steiner represented this triune evolution in his famous sculpture of Christ as the representative of  Man, casting blessings on the Earth with the one hand, while with the other holding Ahriman at bay and at the same time preventing Lucifer from descending.

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Steiner E-Library

  • CHRIST IN RELATION TO LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN - Rudolf Steiner -Linz, May 18, 1915
  • THE AHRIMANIC DECEPTION - Rudolf Steiner - Zurich, October 27, 1919
  • THE DEED OF CHRIST and the Opposing Spiritual Powers -Two Lectures by Rudolf Steiner - 1st January and 22nd March 1909

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    page by M.Alan Kazlev
    page uploaded 24 June 1998, revised 23 April 1999