The mechanism proposed by Steiner was that there were certain changes that needed to be made, spiritual steps that needed to be taken, by Western Man in a fashion that was willed, conscious, explicit - and if such steps were not taken (and they were not taken) then the desired changes would appear in a distorted form as instincts post-hoc interpreted rationalistically...
I have edited parts the lecture to focus on the parts relating to what-turned-out-to-be the sexual revolution, now mainstream and dominant in the West - I have ruthlessly 'translated' some of Steiner's idiosyncratic terminology - so this is an interpretation as well as an edited version. Some of my comments are [in square brackets].
The whole lecture can (and should) be read here - but, be warned, it is difficult:
What if humanity on earth should persist in sleeping through the momentous spiritual revelation of the future?
Then the Angels would have to try different means of achieving what the pictures they weave in the consciousness of man are intended to achieve. If men do not allow this to be achieved in while they are awake, the Angels would, in this case, endeavour to fulfill their aims through their sleeping bodies.
Here lies the great danger for this age of the Consciousness Soul. [That is, the era in which consciousness, self-awareness, is intensified to the exclusion of contact with reality - the age of disenchantment, alienation, materialism.] This is what might still happen if, before the beginning of the third millennium, men were to refuse to turn to the spiritual life. The third millennium begins with the year 2000, so it is only a short time ahead of us.
But what would be the outcome if the Angels were obliged to perform this work without man himself participating, to carry it out during sleep? Firstly, something would be engendered in the sleeping human bodies and Man would meet with it on waking in the morning ... but then it would become instinct instead of conscious spiritual activity, and therefore baleful.
Certain instinctive knowledge will arise in human nature connected with the mystery of birth and conception, with sexual life as a whole; and this threatens to become baleful if the danger of which I have spoken takes effect.
The effect in the evolution of humanity would be that certain instincts connected with the sexual life would arise in a pernicious form instead of wholesomely, in clear waking consciousness.
These sexual instincts would not be mere aberrations, but would pass over into and configure the social life, would above all prevent men from unfolding brotherhood in any form whatever on the earth, and would rather induce them to rebel against it. This would be a matter of instinct.
So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.
And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. But light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ...
Natural science will be totally blind to the event of which I have told you, for if men become half devils through their sexual instincts, science will as a matter of course regard this as a natural necessity. Scientifically, then, the matter is simply not capable of explanation, for whatever happens, everything can be explained by science.
Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes and substances and would experience such satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses that he would regard them as evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness!
In a certain respect, ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness.
Yet, nothing of this would be perceived because it would all be regarded as natural necessity. But it would actually denote an aberration from the path which, in the nature of humanity itself, is prescribed for man's essential being.
Comment: In other words, our true destiny is for each of us deliberately, by choice, consciously and explicitly to make the next step in the evolution towards divine consciousness.
But if we do not make this choice and take this step (and we have-not done so in the past century since Steiner gave this lecture), then we will instead have...
What I find especially impressive about this prediction is that insight that the sexual aberrations would come to configure social life; and would be explained-away by 'science' as natural and inevitable developments: "Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes... and would experience... satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses"; and would see these as "evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness"; amounting to a mainstream societal adoption of value-inversion - "ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness".
Well, we will have exactly what we actually do have: Steiner's prophecy regarding the sexual revolution has-been fulfilled; explicitly and to the last detail.
That is remarkably prescient. It really does seem to describe our current situation in which the spiritual has been rejected and substituted by the sexual, and its gives support to the idea that's it's all one energy, the expression of which depends on individual purity and motivation.
Reading the full lecture lends support to the theory that ideals of spiritual brotherhood implanted by the angels over the course of the 20th century have been perverted and interpreted on a lower, purely materialistic level of existence. This explains much leftist thought, I believe, and tells us why a leftist considers himself the most virtuous of men. He is responding to a divine inspiration but doing so from the perspective of atheism, materialism and ego. Whether this has come about because of our own limitations and lack of imagination or demonic corruption is almost beside the point (though I think it’s both). It has undoubtedly happened, and our task now is to preserve the inspiration but purify it by transforming it from a worldly to a spiritual plane.
@William - Glad to have your take on this.
For me, the importance is that Steiner's prophecy was of the nature of a deduction, rather than an inspiration. He analytically (as well as intuitively) saw (correctly I believe) what we needed to do; and the 'logical' consequences if we did not do it.
What is most interesting and important is that what we needed to do (and have not yet done) was spiritual rather than religious.
Steiner was a very deeply motivated Christian who talked of this almost all the time (albeit his Christianity is extremely unusual and heterodox) so we must recognise, what New Agers do not, that the spiritual developmental-evolution must occur *within* the Christian framework.
However, traditional, church-based church-focused and church-driven, Christianity (ie a restoration of pre-modern Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant) will not suffice.
Indeed, a revival of traditional Christianity is not even possible - and people that suppose they are actually doing it are mistaken (pretty obviously so, indeed).
The implications are clear, we must first become Christian, and then become spiritual: first religious And Then spiritual. (Not stopping after the first, nor trying to do the second without the first.)
But I think Steiner is also absolutely correct (and this was his own great insight!) that the spirituality must have the characteristics of being conscious, purposive, explicit... or what he calls 'scientific' (in the broad 19th century Germanic sense of 'Wissenschaftlich', which is different from modern mainstream 'science').
In other words Not a spirituality based on dreams, trances, channelling, or any other unconscious (traditional atavistic, child-like) process; but something new - what Steiner called Pure Thinking or the Intuitive Soul, Barfield called Final Participation, and I call Primary Thinking.
I regard this as something we absolutely *must* do - *if* we (here and now) are to move forward in our progression towards higher divinity - we must do it to move-on, but it is our own, personal choice that *cannot* be compelled by any external force.
(To become more divine, from now on, must be our choice and responsibility.)
In Steiner's (I think, very helpful) way of regarding the devil as divided into Lucifer and Satan/ Ahriman - we are currently in the age of Ahriman - the scientistic bureaucrat of The System; but it is useless to try and move back to the age of Lucifer - the instinct driven sensualist of the Mass media/ New Age hippiedom.
At present the mainstream is mainly Ahrimanic, but oscillates into Luciferic when things get too oppressive - but without any forward movement.
Christ transcends both; and points to a state of being that is both truly-'scientific' and also truly deriving-from our deepest and most-inclusive instinctive selves: approximately being awake and purposive in the Luciferic dream and/ or a poetic and intuitive Ahrimanic 'science'.
More first thoughts than take, to be honest! But I do so agree with you that religion as it was is no longer enough. The mistake of many people now, though, is that they reject it altogether instead of building on it. We must go forward but we can't do so by denying the reality of Christ. As you say, "we must first become Christian, and only then become spiritual: Not stopping after the first, nor trying to do the second without the first". Or if we do, as many probably do in the early stages of searching (including myself at one time), then we must retrace our steps and include Christ as the foundation.
The tragedy is that a lot of people now remain stuck in a false spirituality thinking they are on a higher plane.
That's really eerily prophetic.
@WmJas - It is indeed.
And I think it is relevant that this was a prophecy based upon a certain perseptive and knowledge of causal factors, which were then 'logically' extrapolated in a kind of: "If - then... But if-Not - then..."
Steiner also made innumerable prophecies of the 'foresight' type; based upon his reading of the Akashic Records, or his numerology, or his schmemata of the planned stepwise and timed evolution of the planet and of Men... none of these seem convincing or even plausible to me.
This prophecy, however, seems to come from the prime insights of his early, philosophical-metaphysical books, before his thinking was muddied by Theosophy (from c 1902) and Politics (from 1919) - although he remained capable of stunning insights right up to the end...
It's just that from c1900 the genuine insights are swamped by ?millions of words of (mostly-) nonsense.
There is a link between this prophecy and Steiner's (much more confused, but interesting and probably importantly insightful) idea of the Etheric Christ:
You don't mention this bit of the lecture, Bruce, but I think it is very pertinent too.
"Everything connected with medicine will make a great advance in the materialistic sense. Men will acquire instinctive insights into the medicinal properties of certain substances and certain treatments — and thereby do terrible harm. But the harm will be called useful. A sick man will be called healthy, for it will be perceived that the particular treatment applied leads to something pleasing. People will actually like things that make the human being — in a certain direction — unhealthy.
Knowledge of the medicinal effects of certain processes and treatments will be enhanced, but this will lead into very baleful channels. For man will come to know through certain instincts, what kind of illnesses can be induced by particular substances and treatments. And it will then be possible for him either to bring about or not to bring about illnesses, entirely as suits his egotistical purposes.
The third result will be this. Man will get to know of definite forces which, simply by means of quite easy manipulations — by bringing into accord certain vibrations — will enable him to unleash tremendous mechanical forces in the world. Instinctively he will come to realise in this way the possibility of exercising a certain spiritual guidance and control of the mechanistic principle — and the whole of technical science will sail into desolate waters. But human egoism will find these desolate waters of tremendous use and benefit."
I see this as predicting the spiritually negative effect of many modern medical procedures including organ transplants, and is it too far-fetched to see the computer and IT revolutions described in the last paragraph?
William - I have discussed Steiner's 1918 prophecy several times over the past couple of years - this was the first:
So, I have already cited that passage. However, I felt that readers of this blog had not appreciated the astonishing natire of the prophecy, so I reposted it in a form that concentrates one particular aspect, and spells it out more.
I might well do the same with the second prophecy and medicine, at some time - although probably many people do not realise how true this really is, because the dishonest hype for medicine apparently still convinces the general public that we are moving forward, instead of back.
The third prophecy is a bit less specific, but seems perhaps to refer to the development of nuclear weapons/ power? - although it could also be taken to refer to the upcomin implant/ cyborg technologies technologies as you suggest.
Altogether a truly remarkable example of foresight.
The prophecy about what-actually-happened couldn't be any more clear, but the description of what-was-supposed-to-happen is less clear.
As far as I understand it, some kind of evolution of human consciousness and behaviour was supposed to occur, including behaviour in the realm of sexuality. Under that evolution, the traditional way of doing things could no longer apply as-is; however, any change in behaviour had to be consciously but intuitively reasoned-out, using higher forms of thinking, but ones which include premises of respect for God and tradition. This is where it becomes difficult for me to reason what needed to happen.
Failing to do so, we got changes to human consciousness on the level of instinct; and instinct, without any conscious culture to regulate it, leads to destructive consequences.
@Seijo - That was the focus of Steiners early philosophical work culminating in Philosophy of Freedom (word search it on this blog) and what was *supposed* to occur was Primary Thinking/ Final Participation (again word search these for more info).
That gives us the Form - but wrt content, I find Steiners metaphysics to be working against his hopes for sexuality. Steiner himself was almost assexual and sex and sexuality - marriage and family - does seem to be a big blind spot for him.
But what is needed (metaphysically) was given by Mormonism - so it is up to us to put together the big picture.
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