Saturday 1 September 2018

The work of angels in Modern Man

It has often been said that Christians are pretty much obliged to believe in the reality of both demons and angels - since they are so often mentioned in the New Testament. Yesterday, William wrote about demons - today I am mentioning angels.

Readers of my Notions blog will now that I have been very interested in a 1918 lecture by Rudolf Steiner that was translated (with the help of Owen Barfield!) as The Work of the Angels in Man's Astral Body

This is a very difficult thing to read for several reasons. Firstly because it includes several of Steiner's assumptions concerning the nature and structure of reality - which it is unlikely that you will believe are true (I don't). For instance, he accepts the complex and constrained hierarchy of angels derived from Dionysius the Areopagite; and he divides (sharply and rigidly) the human into Physical, Etheric, Astral and Ego/I 'bodies' or sheaths. All of these have some validity, but I mostly need to 'retranslate' them into something I regard as closer to reality.

Secondly, because this is a lecture transcription, and was never edited by Steiner, it seems to contain some errors and omissions - or at least awkward and hard-to-follow transitions. For example: the last few paragraphs don't seem to have much to do with the main lecture. Perhaps they were in response to a question from the audience?

Thirdly - I think the lecture material is a mixture of the most brilliant prophecy I have ever seen, bar none; and stuff that is just wrong.

However - if you are prepared to make the effort to tackle this piece, I think you will be deeply and profoundly rewarded. I have found it to be of immense value in understanding what is happening nowadays; and what failed to happen in recent generations.

In essence, the lecture is about the way that angelic influences have tried to inform Men by means of conscious ideas and imaginations (i.e. 'astral' knowledge) - but modern man refuses to acknowledge the reality of the spiritual; and instead the same impulses have only had an effect unconsciously, at the level of instinct. And this has led to the evil we see around us.

An example Steiner gives is sexuality. The true angelic impulse is towards a recognition of the divine in all persons, an actual knowledge that every human is a son or daughter of God. But this explicit spiritual knowledge has been refused (because people reject belief in God, and deny any meaning to the divine). Instead it works through at a materialist level, and impact in the form of the political ideologies of Leftism - with the false distortion that all humans are 'equal'.

The suggestion is that we have an angelic impulse; but this is demonically distorted. According to Steiner, there are two classes of demons - Luciferic and Ahrimanic: the Luciferic works at the level of instinctive gratification - so this would include the sexual revolution, promiscuity; the aim of more sex with more and more people (and things) of more and more different types etc. The Ahrimanic is the bureaucratic pseudo-rational - and this would include the many regulations and laws that assert that all Men are the same, interchangeable, and that Life ought to be monitored and regulated to enforce this materialist model of 'equality'.

Although the demons are of two, very different, almost opposed types (eg instinct and impulse versus planned and bureaucratic); in practice they reinforce each other; just as the mass media (Luciferic) sustains the world of regulations and laws (Ahrimanic) - when the media 'calls for' ever-more regulation and monitoring to solve 'problems'; which then identifies more 'problems' and generates more media pressure.  Public Relations is where the two interface.

Anyway, this is only one of the amazingly precise prophecies that Steiner produced 100 years ago.

My point here and today is that this is evidence of angelic influence in our lives.

We need, more than almost-anything, to become consciously aware of these angelic influences in our own minds. Only by such direct awareness can we understand what really needs to be done.


William Wildblood said...

My understanding is that during the course of the 20th century the powers that be, akin to Steiner's angels, have tried to influence the human mind towards spiritual awakening of a much more active mode than heretofore when we largely followed authority and outer rules. But this influencing took the form of impressions which would then have to be interpreted by the receiving mind, whether individual or collective. Unfortunately we have mostly responded to spiritual impulses on a materialistic level hence the idea that we are advancing into a brave new future, and the illusion that the left has that it is progressive.

The spiritual ideas that the left responds to are evolutionary but only when translated into spiritual terms. Their interpretations corrupt and distort them because they fundamentally misconceive them by reducing the spiritual to the material, and the divine to the merely human.

I imagine that this process would have been anticipated. It has certainly been aided and abetted by demonic interference not to mention ill-motivated human beings. But perhaps the risk was thought worth taking as it would help in a separation of the sheep from the goats which is an end times task.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - "But perhaps the risk was thought worth taking... " This is an interesting aspect to ponder.

In a sense the risk is unavoidable, if Men are to become gods - fully divine Sons and Daughters of God the father, and siblings of Jesus Christ... at *some point* we must made a fully conscious and active decision to ally with God, to recognise Jesus as our Saviour. Modern Man is at that point of consciousness where such a decision *can* be made, and that is one reason for such a situation.

The other question is why you and I are in this kind of situation in our mortal lives, when people in other places and in the past were not. My understanding is that this experience is not an accident (nothing is an accident, there is no 'luck'), but related to what we personally (as unique souls) most need in a way distinctive to ourselves.

(You would probably explain it in terms of our cumulative experience across several incarnations?)

Moonsphere said...

Thank you for bringing attention to this important lecture which offers a rare possibility of grasping the spiritual dynamics which underlie the distorted and aberrant modern culture we live with today.

I would make one small point though. Most every one of the 1000's of Steiner lectures somewhere references the classifications of the spiritual hierarchies, the epochs of the Earth and the various bodies that constitute the human being.

If any of these concepts cause dissonance for a particular reader - then every Steiner text will be a "very difficult thing to read"!

William Wildblood said...

Well, Bruce, as you know I do believe in reincarnation! On the other hand, I don't know if that is a universal thing or just applies to certain souls who come to this world. But really it doesn't so much matter why we are here at this critical juncture in history. We are here and must deal with the situation as it is. I'm sure that every soul has a great chance of learning something important now if it seizes the opportunity. I almost think of it as an end of term test.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Moonsphere - A valid point; and my reverence for Steiner (my regarding him as a first rank genius) is based mainly on the three philosophical books published before he became a lecturer.

But I can see that there is a sense in which the division into Physical/ Etheric/ Astral/ Ego is indeed capturing a reality - but Steiner is much too rigidly categorical about this (and links it with a nonsensical - to my mind - and also over-precise evolutionary theory about the phases of pre-history).

So you are correct that I do read the bulk of Steiner's output in a very selective fashion, filtering-out a good deal e.g. I probably filter about half even of this wonderful Work of the Angels lecture. But nonetheless, this single lecture is worth almost anything else I know-of!

And even when I am having to discard 90% of what I read in a lecture or a book by Steiner - that 10% is often well-worth knowing, and unobtainable elsewhere.

Moonsphere said...

Thanks Bruce - In later life Steiner always did say that his "Philosophy of Freedom" would be his most important and longest lasting legacy to humanity.

Without Steiner I would not have found my way to be a Christian and I have his vast esoteric output to thank for that. So I suppose we differ in that regard. But even 10% of it would have incalculable value!

My natural path brought me first to Steiner's esoteric material and only many years later did I finally feel the spark of enthusiasm necessary to embark on a study of his earliest works. By then I needed no convincing of his genius rather it was my own intellectual development that needed to be honed before I could even make a start in that direction.

Tobias said...

Angels and demons - yes.

I'm currently reading 'Christ and Sophia - Anthroposophic Meditations on the Old Testament, new Testament & Apocalypse' by Valentin Tomberg. He goes through the whole Bible and shows how it tells the history of the Christ being, and how the whole of human history is preparation, both earthly and cosmically, for the event of the Mystery of Golgotha. Tomberg also demonstrates the central role of the Sophia being, her relation to Christ, to the Holy Spirit, to the disciples and Pentecost, and to all humanity.

Here's a link for those who are interested:


Chiu ChunLing said...

One of the strengths of the term "we" is that it is not precisely defined, other than presumably (but not in all cases) including "I".

But this strength becomes a crucial defect if we fail to remember it.

In this particular context, the important thing to remember is that, while there is certainly a community and a communion among the saved, salvation remains essentially individual. It is the individual that accepts or rejects God's grace.

And some individuals will reject salvation.

This is particularly pertinent when we talk of how "we" are responding to the exhortations of angels on the one hand and the temptations of demons on the other, then talking of God's plan for "us".

Unknown said...

My experiences of the past two years resonate strongly with the subject of this post and the lecture discussed, and you've given me much to think about (and read further into) - thank you. It's very hard to discuss rationally - even trying to read it seems a bit "sacrilegious against the mundane". I expected I would become less spiritual and more mundanely rational in advancing years, but instead it has been the opposite. But to court it has meant having to keep quiet in many places. No "professional" wishes to discuss anything related to the spirit. The objective materialist nature of modern discussion has to be broken past, since the spirit is far greater.

Moonsphere said...

@Tobias - That is a truly wonderful book recommendation!

I am grateful to all those have worked to rescue Tomberg's legacy from obscurity, not least by bringing these particular writings together in one publication.

Had Steiner lived a little longer, I believe that Tomberg would have received his blessing to lead the Society onwards.