Eternal and Transient Elements in Human Life: The Cosmic Past of Humanity and the Mystery of Evil
15 lectures, Dornach, September 6–October 13, 1918 (CW 184)
In what has been called “the most advanced course in Anthroposophy,” Rudolf Steiner addresses one of the great questions of our time: the role of evil in human development. He speaks of the year 666, when three streams of time intersected—the familiar linear stream and two “lateral” streams—and the reoccurrence of the 666-year rhythm in history.
At the heart of this mystery is the being Sorat (“the beast”), who attempted to flood humanity with premature spiritual knowledge by inspiring the scholars of the ancient Academy of Gondishapur. Although that academy was responsible for saving Aristotle’s works, Steiner describes how it generated tremendous and dangerous gnostic wisdom, which eventually spread through the Christian monasteries and inspired Western scientific thought. Its immediate negative impact, however, had to be counteracted by the Prophet Muhammad and the establishment of Islam.
In contrast to the 666-year rhythm in history, the 333-year rhythm is connected to the healing forces of the Golgotha Mystery. The year 333 is a central point in the post-Atlantean age, as well as a pivotal moment in establishing the Christ Impulse and the new equilibrium it has brought to humanity, allowing people to gain wisdom through their own efforts. Such wisdom enables insight into three key areas: suprasensory knowledge of birth and death; understanding an individual’s life; and the conscious ability to confront the adversarial beings, Lucifer and Ahriman.
Steiner addresses a host of additional themes, including occult Freemasonry in Anglo-American countries; materialism in the Roman Catholic Church; prophetic and apocalyptic vision; dualism and fatalism in pre-Christian times; and the delusion of time and space. Seeking to awaken his listeners to the urgency of the tasks ahead of them, he urges them to enliven spiritual understanding with enthusiasm, fire, and warmth of heart.
This volume is a translation from German of Die Polarität von Dauer und Entwickelung im Menschenleben. Die kosmische Vorgeschichte der Menschheit (GA 184).
About The Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up. As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.