Monday 12 November 2018

The Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Sorath... One or how many demonic leaders?

The demon's problem is that, by Not incarnating and having separated themselves from God's direct presence in Heaven, they are not-easily brought-to-a-point...

They are eternal and indestructible spirits who have taken the side against Creation; and as such they are Not-very-good at learning from experience.

Perhaps, the hellish economy works more by a kind of 'natural selection' among demons, rather than by the learning and development of individual demons.

That is, maybe the individual demons stay much the same (because they don't learn from experience), but one or another comes to the fore at different times and places and situations; for which they happen to be best adapted.

Some rise, some fall back down the hierarchy; and the supreme Leader varies at different times, and perhaps too in different places - hence the several names for the chief demon in different sources and cultures. 

So The Devil may be sometimes the passionate and charismatic Lucifer, sometimes the coldly bureaucratic Ahriman, sometimes the sadistic Sorath - whatever is working most effectively here-and-now in the work of opposition to God, Good and Creation?


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I'm sure I'm not the only reader to whom "Sorath" is new. Apparently it is a demonic name invented by Steiner, representing the Hebrew סורת -- a nonsense word created by choosing letters whose value would add up to 666.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - yes, the post was stimulated by reading and listening to Terry Boardman discussing Rudolf Steiner's ideas. Steiner didn't often mention Sorath, and he doesn't seem to have had a very clear or important role in RS's schema.

Steiner also used the names Lucifer and Ahriman in very distinctive and idiosyncratic ways. As usual with RS; I find a great deal of value in the discussion (e.g of the two main types of evil, and how they interact, and their role as something we must grow-against), while rejecting most of his claims as untrue.

For example that Ahriman was incarnated in the year 2000 or so, and is either already known or will shortly be making a great deal of trouble - as a kind of Antichrist. But maybe I will soon have to eat my words...

Chiu ChunLing said...

What is the relationship between Ahriman and Abaddon, the angel of the abyss mentioned in the Revelations of John?

Are they supposed to be the same, allies, or antithetical?

Seijio Arakawa said...

I assume in Steiner's typical garbled style the Ahriman prophecy is real and has something to do with the computer revolution. Ahriman is associated with electricity and it is not plausible to develop complex computers without first harnessing electricity. (Babbage tried to build a computer with steam, whereby some bureaucrats materialized and asked if the machine would be able to make correct decisions for them based on incorrect input data.) The unspoken assumption that computers are able to 'think' and 'decide' things by mechanically following rules, and that all human activity might be reduced to mechanical following of rules, is likewise characteristically Ahrimanic.

If Ahriman is a literal incarnate person, he could easily be one of the researchers currently working on Machine Learning or (less plausibly*) instead of a human body he might attempt to incarnate into a software system developed by some researchers who will assume they 'built' an intelligence out of nothing. I point to Machine Learning in particular since that way Ahriman's cause seems to be guaranteed a large, intelligent and enthusiastic (if not very intellectually-coherent) priesthood.

(* Still, it seems sufficiently in the spirit of the times that, before posting this comment, Google requests me to prove I am not a robot... by mechanically ticking a checkbox.)

More metaphorically, the 'incarnation' of Ahriman might mean the completion of the totalitarian-bureaucratic world system, with the ongoing replacement of human agency with computer-controlled pseudo-agency reaching some ill-defined tipping point. Then the Bureaucracy as a metaphorical body of Ahriman could be a parody or imitation of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Steiner seemed to imply that, depending on the spiritual development achieved at this point in time, Ahriman could end up serving either Good or Evil. Probably incarnation is a guess at explaining how that is possible -- an incarnate being would be free to understand and make such a choice, a pre-incarnate or disincarnate being would (by most accounts) follow its prior inclinations and serve one or the other side exclusively.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Seijio - Ingenious alternative explanation! Although Steiner's point was that this was an unique 'incarnation'. That aside. everything you say seems correct or likely; although as I wrote a few weeks ago - the main thing about computer's is not that they match humans, but that humans are compelled to conform to computers.

People are replaced by computers - not because the computers are better - they are worse, but because people are prepared to accept whatever computers give. This is normal throughout bureaucracy as I have observed it unroll over the past thirty years: a System is imposed despite that it is worse.

When Steiner was making these prophecies a century and more ago, he was optimistic that he would trigger a change in the West (complete the Romantic movement); but even before he died he seems to have realised that he had failed - and that the Anthroposophical Society and all its projects had failed. What this failure means is that we must work from Steiner's writings, not from his legacy.

William Wildblood said...

I take Steiner with an even bigger pinch of salt than Bruce does (the fact that he appears to have almost no interest in God has always seemed an extraordinary omission in his understanding of spirituality) but I do think the idea of Ahriman incarnating through, or even as, computers is correct. The computer revolution is clearly the most corrupting thing from a spiritual point of view of recent decades because it mimics the spiritual on a material plane thereby erecting a barrier to the real spiritual.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William "he appears to have almost no interest in God has always seemed an extraordinary omission in his understanding of spirituality" - You are absolutey right! And it is extraordinary, because it makes his explanations needlessly (and ridiculously!) complicated; which itself tends to make the omission potentially sinister.

Chiu ChunLing said...

If one wishes to speak to those who have already discounted God, then one must do so without relying on appeals to the existence of God.

The complications arise from failing to acknowledge the obvious consequences of discounting God.