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Who WE Are ~ And Where WE are Heading ~ Buddha and Christ The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas A Lecture by Rudolf Steiner

https://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0130/19110921p01.html

BUDDHA AND CHRIST

The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas

In this lecture I want to speak of certain facts which belong essentially to the ethical and moral domain and help us to understand the mission of Spiritual Science in our time.

We are all deeply convinced of the great truth of reincarnation, of repeated earthly lives, and we must realise that this repetition has its own good purpose in the Earth’s evolution. To the question, ‘Why do we reincarnate?’ — occult research gives the answer that our experiences differ in each of the epochs during which we are reborn on the Earth. In incarnations immediately following the Atlantean catastrophe the experiences of the human soul were entirely different from those undergone in later pre-Christian epochs and in our own age.

I need only briefly mention that in the times directly after the Atlantean catastrophe, souls were endowed with a certain elementary clairvoyance in the bodies they then inhabited. This clairvoyance, once a natural faculty in man, was gradually lost, mainly as a result of the conditions prevailing during the Græco-Roman epoch of culture. Since then, man has developed in such a way that great progress has been achieved on the physical plane and during the course of the present post-Atlantean epoch clairvoyance will gradually be reacquired.

We are living in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture, the ancient Indian being the first, the ancient Persian the second, the Babylonian-Chaldean the third, the Græco-Roman the fourth; the sixth and seventh epochs will follow our own. And then another great catastrophe will befall the Earth and humanity, as was the case at the end of the Atlantean epoch.

Occult research is able to indicate the characteristic trend of human evolution in each of these post-Atlantean epochs of civilisation — including the fifth, sixth and seventh. The essential characteristic of our present fifth epoch is the development of intellect, of reason. The main characteristic of the sixth epoch will be that very definite feelings regarding what is moral and what is immoral will arise in the souls of men. Delicate feelings of sympathy will be aroused by compassionate, kindly deeds and feelings of antipathy by malicious actions. Nobody living at the present time can have the faintest conception of the intensity of these feelings.

The sixth epoch will be followed by the seventh, when the moral life will be still further deepened. Whereas in the sixth epoch man will take pleasure in good and noble actions, in the seventh epoch the natural outcome of such pleasure will be a moral impulse, that is to say there will be a firm resolve to do what is moral. There is a great difference between taking pleasure in a moral action and the doing of it. We can therefore say: our own epoch is the epoch of intellectualism; the essential characteristic of the following epoch will be aesthetic pleasure in the good, aesthetic displeasure in the evil; and the seventh will be characterised by an active moral life.

At the present time only the seeds of what will become part of mankind in future epochs are contained in the human soul and it can be said that all these aptitudes or predispositions in man — intellectual aptitudes, predispositions leading to feelings of sympathy or antipathy aroused by certain actions, to moral impulses — all these are related to the higher worlds. Every moral action has a definite connection with the higher worlds. Our intellectual aptitudes have a super-sensible connection with the astral plane. Our sympathies and antipathies for the good or the evil are connected with the sphere of Lower Devachan; and the domain of moral impulses in the soul is connected with Higher Devachan. Hence we can also say: In our present age it is mainly the forces of the astral world that penetrate into and take effect in the human soul; in the sixth epoch it will be the forces of Lower Devachan that penetrate more deeply into the soul; and in the seventh, the forces of Higher Devachan will work with special strength into humanity.

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