by Tyla and Douglas Gabriel
“The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man.”
— Rudolf Steiner
One of the greatest questions facing humanity is what to do with evil. Students of Rudolf Steiner often argue whether one should conquer evil in a Michaelic fashion with a sword of wisdom that slays ignorance, ignore evil and see only the good, or absorb and transform it in the fashion of Mani, the great spiritual teacher who founded the Manichean religion.
Evil abounds everywhere and in America it is the mainstay of most every newscast, television show, and movie. The greater the evil displayed, the larger the audience. Evil is so encultured that when it rears its head, like the American bombing of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and other countries, the modern Westerner does not even notice. Evil is king and the global elite and every small cabal underneath them run rampant through the world causing chaos, destruction and destabilization in their wake.
How can the modern aspirant of spiritual teachings find an answer for evil and learn how to transform it?
First, we need to know what evil is. Steiner gives tremendous descriptions of good and evil and explains things as the combination of four different time periods that interpenetrate to create our world, essentially, three dimensions and the factor of time as a linear experience. Our three dimensions result in the three soul forces of the human being – thinking, feeling and willing. These three soul forces are confronted by three different types of evil in the world.
Thinking is attacked by spirits who slowed down their development to help create resistance for the human being in thinking. Thinking can rise up and become higher vibrations and harmonics while creating the future spiritual environment of the aspirant. Thinking can also lower its vibration and become food for the elemental beings and the beings who slowed down and remained behind for our benefit. In the moment, these beings are evil and wish to lead thinking in the wrong direction and make it the materialistic limit of human development, instead of a tool that can commune with higher spiritual beings through developed thinking called Imagination.
Living Thinking Becomes Imagination
The beings who wish to steal human thinking and lead it astray are called Luciferic beings. They attack the human astral body and lead thoughts into the seven deadly sins instead of into higher worlds through the seven holy virtues. Every person is faced with the polarity of evil in their thinking through cold, grey shadow thoughts on one hand or brilliantly luminous and selfish thoughts on the other. When the center is found through “warmed up” thinking that arises from the heart, then thoughts can be filled with life and become living Imaginations. Lucifer is tamed through this type of living thinking. The evil of thinking is then channeled into Imaginations that feed the angels instead of evil thinking that serves the lower self and its elementals.
The spiritual initiate works to transform the Seven Deadly Sins into the Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Grappling with the Luciferic angels that wish to steal our thoughts is the first stage of spiritual development where doubt is conquered and thoughts are warmed with love to become wisdom. This type of love is often called Christ, or the higher self. It is a type of warmed up thinking that becomes living Imaginations which is often called Wisdom or the being Sophia. Steiner called Her, AnthropoSophia.
Sophia works with the Archangel Michael through wisdom to guide thinking into the realm of the angels, the realm of living Imaginations. Michael is the son of Sophia according to Steiner. With Sophia’s love and close guidance the aspirant can utilize the cosmic Wisdom (Sophia) of Michael to defeat Lucifer in the realm of thinking.
Courageous Feeling Becomes Inspiration
The second stage of spiritual development happens when feelings can be turned into Inspirations. Generally, evil penetrates feeling through fear and anxiety in the human heart. Cold, reptilian feelings rule the modern realm of emotions. From cold, dispassionate evil that racks the heart with fear and anxiety, to the rage and anger that fills the American emotional landscape there is little balance in the soul. Faith and confidence in the spiritual world seldom fill the heart. Worries of making money, finding love, and making a living oftentimes overwhelms the heart until fear and anxiety turn to depression and suicide. Only the confidence that comes from belief in and experience of the spiritual world can allay those fears.
Fear of death is conquered when the Inspiration arises that human life is eternal and we live on after death, one life after the next. The sting of death dissipates when faith and confidence in the divine fill the heart. This type of Inspiration comes from the realm of the Archangels. The opposing beings who use fear, anxiety, and oppression to steal the heart forces of humanity are called the Ahrimanic beings. Where there is love, there is no fear.
Rudolf Steiner tells us about fear and anxiety in, The Stages of Higher Knowledge:
“The human feels, as it were, far more things compel him to feel, only in ordinary life this excess is employed in a direction that through occult training must be transformed into another. Take, for instance, a feeling of anxiety or fear. It can be crystal clear that often fear or anxiety is greater than it would be if it were in true proportion to the corresponding outer event. Imagine that the occult student is working energetically on himself with the aim to dell in no instance more fear and anxiety than is justified by corresponding external events. Now a given amount of fear or anxiety always entails an expenditure of soul force. This soul force is actually lost as a result when fear or anxiety is produced. The student conserves this soul force when he denies himself fear or anxiety—or other such feelings—and it remains at his disposal for some other purpose. If he repeats such processes often, he will build up an inner treasure of these continually husbanded soul forces, and the occult student will soon find that out of such economies of feeling will arise the germs of those inner images that will bring to expression the revelations of higher life.”
Ahrimanic beings tend to make humans very materialistic, nihilistic, and atheistic. Ahriman creates illness in the heart and this creates the fear of the past and the terror of the future. The warmth of love resides in the human heart and it can conquer the cold, calculated fear and anxiety of the Ahrimanic beings active in the etheric body of the human being. Bringing morality and faith into the heart dispels fear and ends anxiety. Then at that point, the human being can create the fire that feeds love.
This second stage of spiritual development creates the transformation of the human etheric body. This etheric body is a mirror image or holographic piece of the entire cosmos. Ahriman wants to disconnect humans from their divine inheritance of becoming a perfect image of the whole by convincing humans that they are just animals instead of angels in the becoming. Knowing your divine origins fires the heart to develop courage to face evil with love and tame it – not kill it.
The first stage is control of thinking whereas the second stage is to fire the heart with moral feelings that arise to the realm of the Archangels, the realm of Inspiration.
To conquer the cold, deadening forces of Ahrimanic beings, the aspirant needs to seek the help of Christ, the higher self. Sophia and Michael have approached the aspirant in the realm of the astral body to help transform thinking into Imagination. Christ now approaches the aspirant in the realm of the heart to fire the soul with moral love born of freedom and Imagination. Christ joins with Sophia and is often called, Sophia Christos. These beings work together as two sides of a coin. Sophia on the side of wisdom, Christ on the side of love.
Spirit Willing Becomes Intuition
The third stage of spiritual development entails control of the most mysterious and unknown aspects of the soul called the will, or the volition of the human being. Often the will of the modern aspirant is frozen, weak, or undeveloped. That is because a third group of evil beings try to steal the will of the aspirant through hatred, ethnocentricism, and selfishness. These beings attack the will and twist it into violence, sexual aberrations, and every form of ego deformation imaginable. These evil beings are called Asuras and they will eat human will power if possible.
These beings enter into the human body and become habits, addictions, and ways of life that distort the entire nature of the human being into that of an animal. Lower desires feed these beings who wish to enter into the will of the human being at every point where hatred instead of love rules. The wisdom of Sophia and love of Christ must join together to embrace and redeem these beings who sacrificed themselves so that humanity could have the resistant to grow.
When Sophia (Michael), Christ and the pure love of the aspirant join together to fight the Asuras that have taken up residence in our bad habits, then love can conquer hatred and absorb evil so that we can liberate and redeem the Luciferic, Ahrimanic, and Asuric beings who wish to steal the thinking, feeling, and willing of humanity. These beings steal these forces so that for a moment they might feel what is like to be “human” again. Each of these three ranks of evil beings have been “human” at one time and long to remain in the realm of humans.
When these three ranks of evil take action, it is out of a different realm that wishes to “invade” the realm of the human being. These beings do not belong in this realm and need to transition back into the realm they came from. Each time we consciously face these beings in our own thinking, feeling, and willing, and turn those soul forces into Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition we liberate them and ourselves.
This is the mission of humanity – to turn evil into good, to take the gifts of evil and redeem and liberate the beings who have sacrificed themselves for our spiritual evolution.
We are in the time when thinking is the realm over which we have the most control. The astral realm is where we must tame our astral bodies through controlling our thinking and refining it into thoughts that behold the eternal in the world. Michaelic thinking is the antidote that Steiner speaks of most often. But we need Sophia to also help lead us through earthly wisdom to Michaelic cosmic wisdom.
The Mission of Human Spiritual Evolution
To transform the realm of feeling in the etheric body of the human being is the mission of Christ in the human heart. Christ is also transforming the entire etheric body of the earth as His second coming in the etheric realm. Christ is linking the etheric heart of the human to the etheric heart of the cosmos.
To absorb and redeem the will or physical body of the human being is the mission of human spiritual evolution. This special process is aided by a being who is very close to humanity and has provided an excellent model to absorb and redeem the evil of the Asuras. This being was Mani, the founder of the Manichean religion. He synthesized many religions into one that taught that light and dark are in a battle for the human soul. His religion was far ahead of modern religious thinking, even in our day.
Steiner pointed out that Mani was a forerunner who showed us how evil will be overcome by absorbing it into the human being and transforming it into its opposite – darkness becomes light. This powerful magical means is still far in the future, even though some trained in this method have been using Mani’s example as a path to conquer evil for a long time.
Rudolf Steiner tells us about Mani and his brotherhood in the book, At the Gates of Spiritual Science.
“Centuries ago, with the future development of humanity in view, secret Orders which set themselves the highest conceivable tasks were established. One such order was the Manichean… [who] are supposed to have taught that a Good and Evil are part of the natural order and have always been in conflict with one another, this having been determined but the Creation. Here there is a glimmer of the Order’s real task, but distorted to the point of nonsense. The individual members of the Order were specially trained for their great work. The Order knew that someday there will be men in whose karma there is no longer evil, but that there will also be a race evil by nature, among whom all kinds of evil will be developed to a higher degree than in the most savage of animals, for they will practice evil consciously, exquisitely, with the aid of highly developed intellects. Even now the Manichean Order is training its members so that they may be able to transform evil in later generations.
…..The members of the Manichean Order are already learning how to transform quite radically those who by nature are wholly evil. And then the transformed evil will become a quite special good. The power to effect this change will bring about a condition of moral holiness on Earth. But this can be achieved only if the evil has first come into existence; then the power needed to overcome the evil will yield a power that can reach the heights of holiness. A field has to be treated with manure and the manure has to ferment in the soil; similarly, humanity needs the manure of evil in order to attain to the highest holiness. And herein lies the mission of evil. A man’s muscles get strong by use; and equally, if good is to rise to the heights of holiness, it must first overcome the evil which opposes it. The task of evil is to promote the ascent of man.”
All evil is not the same and it takes discernment to understand evil and know which beings are attacking the human being at any one time. To know the history and nature of these evil beings is a big step in the direction of being able to tame, transform, and absorb them in the right way. Not everyone is ready to confront evil in the will or in their feelings. We start with our thinking and learn its nature and the choices we have with every thought to do good or evil. Once thinking is under control, we have the justifications for changing our feelings about ourselves and others.
Only then, when we can control thinking and feeling and rid them of evil, can we proceed to conscious free acts of love. Calling on Sophia, Michael, Christ, and Mani to help in the process of ascension to our higher self is very helpful. Each being stands ready to help us calm our fears and anxieties so that we can develop higher forms of thinking, feeling and willing.
Rudolf Steiner gives us a beautiful verse to help all three areas of the human soul that are in a pitched battle between good and evil. Reading this verse each day is a great way to raise your consciousness, dispel fear, doubt and hatred and muster the courage to battle with evil in all three realms.
For the Michael Age
We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards Man
Out of the future
And we must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future
We must look forward
With absolute equanimity to everything that may come
And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world directive full of wisdom
It is part of what we must learn in this age,
Namely to live out of pure trust
Without any security in existence.
Trust in that ever-present help of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.
And we must seek this awakening within Ourselves
Every morning and every evening.
If the daily news or the events in your life bring you fear and anxiety, may we offer these Rudolf Steiner quotes to offer you solace and spiritual strength:
The Problem of Faust
(Lecture V, Faust and the Problem of Evil, Dornach, November 3, 1917)
“We human beings of the fifth epoch have to solve in the widest sense, in a living and energetic way, what we may call the problem of evil. I beg you to envisage this most thoroughly. Evil will approach the human being of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch in every conceivable form. Scientifically he will have to solve the nature and essence of evil. In his loving and in his hating, he will have to grapple in the right way with all that springs from evil; he will have to fight and wrestle with the resistances of evil to the impulses of the will.”
Good and Evil Spirits and Their Influence on Humanity
(Berlin, March 24, 1908, Lecture 6)
“We know that spirits remained behind, spirits that had not achieved the full maturity of wisdom evolution and therefore were not interested in handing the rulership over to the stream of love. They wanted to continue their influence and let wisdom continue to flow in. They influenced human beings, and so we cannot say that their activity on Earth was unfruitful. They gave human beings freedom. Where the Christ principle has brought love, these spirits, which we call the Luciferic spirits, brought freedom for the individual. They made it possible for people to choose between good and evil.”
Origin of Suffering, Origin of Evil, Illness and Death, by Rudolf Steiner
(Berlin, November 22, 1906)
“It is characteristic of the whole of modern literature that it speaks so little of evil; materialism simply does not concern itself with evil. If one denies it one can in no way grasp it.
In order to be able to feel the good, man had also to be able to feel the evil. The gods gave him enthusiasm for the higher. But without evil there could be no self-feeling, no free choice of good, no freedom. Good could have been realized without Lucifer, but not freedom. In order to be able to choose good, man must also have the bad before him; it must dwell within him as the force of self-love. But self-love must become love of all. Then evil will be overcome. Freedom and evil have the same original source. Lucifer makes man humanly enthusiastic for the divine.
Lucifer is the bearer of light; the Elohim are light itself. If the light of wisdom has kindled wisdom in man, then Lucifer has brought light into man. But the black shadow of evil had to intermingle; Lucifer brings a shrunken, blemished wisdom but this can penetrate into man. Lucifer is the bearer of external human science which stands in the service of egotism. In pupils of occultism therefore selflessness as regards knowledge is demanded. What the leaven of the old dough means for the new bread: this, from the earlier planet, Lucifer means for us.
Evil is good in its place; with us it is no longer good. Evil is good out of place. The absolute good of a planet always brings evil too in one of its parts to the new planet. Evil is a necessary course of evolution. One must not say that the world is imperfect because it contains evil. Far rather is it perfect precisely on that account. When lovely figures of light are shown in a painting together with evil devils, the picture would be spoilt if one wanted to cut out the devil-figures. The creators of the world needed evil in order to bring the good to unfoldment. A good must first be broken on the rock of evil. The All-Love can only be brought to its highest blossoming through self-love.
(Berlin, November 11, 1904)
“The deep and profound thought here contained is the following: the darkness must be overcome through the Kingdom of Light, through the mingling of the Good with the Evil, in order that the Evil may be redeemed, but not through punishment. The conception underlying this is also that of Theosophy, namely that Evil is only an untimely Good.
What will appear in the Fifth Round for the whole of humanity, i.e., that the physiognomy will be a direct expression for that which karma has created in man, so, in the Sixth Root Race, Evil will appear, especially in the Spiritual. There will be men who are mighty in Love and Goodness. But Evil will also be there as a mood and a disposition without any covering, within a large number of human beings. They will extol Evil.
Some inkling in regard to the Evil in the Sixth Root Race glimmers in many men of genius. The task of the Sixth Root Race is to draw Evil again into itself through gentleness. In those who are the followers of the Sons of the Widow there will live the inviolable principle that Evil must be overcome through gentleness. That is the task of the Manichean spiritual stream. It appears in forms which many can call to mind, and need not be mentioned. It must express itself in the forming of a community which has to spread above all things: Peace, Love, and Non-resistance to Evil. It must create a Form for the Life that is to come later.”
Join Tyla and Douglas Gabriel in the study of neoanthroposophy and the journey back to our spiritual home at OURSPIRIT.com. This lecture may be reposted and reprinted with acknowledgement to the authors, including this statement.