How Do We Prepare for the Future Sixth Epoch?

Decades ago Jackson Brown wrote a song called “Before the Deluge” that clearly described the longings of his generation to seek peace not war and to “go back to the land” in  true millennialist’s fashion. It was a cry for help to the divine to shed mercy on those who wish to preserve, respect, and cherish Mother Nature. Their longing for that which “comes down from the sky”, like New Jerusalem, is the mood of soul that arises as an awakened initiate approaches the threshold between the physical and spiritual worlds. These yearnings for the spirit to descend from heaven into the prepared “heart of longing” of each individual is a necessary prerequisite to  properly approach the dweller of the threshold and the unseen world beyond. Jackson Brown was promoting building a bio-ark with Natura to weather the storm and ride out the deluge that was so clearly coming. He puts it this way in the lyrics of his song, Before the Deluge:

Some of them were dreamers

And some of them were fools

Who were making plans and thinking of the future

With the energy of the innocent

They were gathering the tools

They would need to make their journey back to nature

While the sand slipped through the opening

And their hands reached for the golden ring

With their hearts they turned to each other’s hearts for refuge

In the troubled years that came before the deluge

Some of them knew pleasure

And some of them knew pain

And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered

And on the brave and crazy wings of youth

They went flying around in the rain

And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered

And in the end they traded their tired wings

For the resignation that living brings

And exchanged love’s bright and fragile glow

For the glitter and the rouge

And in a moment they were swept before the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high

Let the buildings keep our children dry

Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by

When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

Some of them were angry

At the way the earth was abused

By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power

And they struggled to protect her from them

Only to be confused

By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

And when the sand was gone and the time arrived

In the naked dawn only a few survived

And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge

Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

Let the music keep our spirits high

Let the buildings keep our children dry

Let creation reveal it’s secrets by and by, by and by

When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

The soul mood of redemption from the apocalypse is beautifully described in these lyrics. As Brown says, “In the naked dawn only a few survived”, while the others met the fate that “in a moment they were swept before the deluge.” In every apocalypse there is always a small remnant who survive through the grace and mercy of the divine. Some type of “ark” carries them to the new home, called in Revelations the “new heaven and new earth.”

Everyone desires to know their destiny, and often people fear what is coming to meet them from the unknown offerings of the future. Even the ancient gods feared and respected the three Fates who spun, measured, and cut the thread of life for gods and humans. We all tremble on the threshold with fear and trepidation at the many times we were selfish and lacked love for our neighbors and ourselves. Truly in our times, the ‘deluge’ is upon us all and we need to be ready to step forward into divine salvation or backward into miserable drowning from the overwhelming deluge. It all depends on whether we had previously prepared our “ark of consciousness” to weather the waves of judgment and tribulation and if we had developed the faith, hope, and love to enkindle the bright dawn of a better day.

Rudolf Steiner tells us about the nature of the future in his cosmology, which informs us that we are presently in the Fifth Post-Atlantean Age (epoch/era). During this age, the outer world will look like the war of all-against-all has arrived and only faith in the divine world and its spiritual beings, as well as your own developing spiritual self, can ride-out the ravages of the stormy deluge of the material world that wishes to drown the spirit. It is love that builds the edifices of the future that we all inherit, the many mansions in the heavenly kingdom that Christ spoke about. Every conscious free deed of love builds that spiritual edifice of love in the etheric world of the future. We each inherent our self-created mansion as our new spiritual body that carries the moral thoughts, feelings, and deeds offered to the Trinity and the Spiritual Hierarchy from life to life.

The Sixth Post-Atlantean Age will begin after 3573 AD. During that epoch, it will be love that guides and leads all people to a direct encounter with the Cosmic Christ. Sophia, or AnthropoSophia, will be an ever-present consciousness of wisdom found in nature which is available for continuous communication with the spiritual world. The Being of Love, Christ, will also be directly available to awakened human consciousness as a higher development of the expression of human conscience. The conscience of the individual will be in direct communication with Christ who will act as a higher aspect of the human soul that is truly spiritual. Christ will reflect to the soul the karmic consequences of each human thought, feeling, and deed.The refined parts of what Rudolf Steiner calls the Consciousness Soul will become the Spiritual Soul, a type of higher ego of the physical world that will be able to speak and communicate with the individual’s Spirit Self through Manasic thinking that is also called Moral Imagination. This type of Moral Imagination is direct communication with beings who live in the realm of angels.

The best descriptions of the Sixth Post-Atlantean Age are found throughout the works of Rudolf Steiner. In an effort to illuminate the nature of the future as an antidote to the fear and terror of what comes towards us from the future, we share Steiner’s indications that tell us to develop faith, love, and hope in the 5th, 6th, and 7th epochs to gain the wisdom and insight to fulfill the mission of human spiritual development. It is not fear that should motivate us, but instead it should be the faith in the ever-present help of the spiritual world that is filled with wisdom and given freely as pure love, the august master-binding of all.

Rudolf Steiner on the Sixth Epoch

Preparing for the Sixth Epoch, Lecture XIII, The Secret of Death, Rudolf Steiner, Dusseldorf, June 15, 1915, GA 159 

The whole purpose of spiritual science is to prepare in this sense for the sixth epoch of culture. Herein we prepare what spiritual science calls freedom of thought. By coming together in friendly associations for the purpose of cultivating spiritual science, we prepare the culture, the civilization of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch.

In the sixth epoch:

-the most highly cultured will not only feel pain such as is caused today by the sight of poverty, suffering and misery in the world, but such individuals will experience the suffering of another human being as their own suffering.

 -the well-being of the individual will depend entirely upon the well-being of the whole.

-complete freedom of thought and a longing for it will so lay hold of men that what a man likes to believe, what religious convictions he holds, will rest wholly within the power of his own individuality. Everyone will feel that complete freedom of thought in the domain of religion is a fundamental right of the human being.

-people will only be considered to have real knowledge when they recognize the spiritual, when they know that the spiritual pervades the world and that human souls must unite with the spiritual.

-all materialistic beliefs including science, too, will be regarded as antiquated superstition. Men as a matter of course will accept as science only such forms of knowledge as are based upon the spiritual, upon pneumatology.

-it is the spirit self that must be developed within the souls of men, just as now the consciousness soul is being developed. The nature of spirit self is that it must pre-suppose the existence in human souls of the three characteristics of which I have spoken: social life in which brotherliness prevails, freedom of thought, and pneumatology. These three characteristics are essential in a community of human beings within which the spirit self is to develop as the consciousness soul develops in the souls of the fifth epoch.

-the individual should make preparation for communities into which he will enter entirely of his own free will in the sixth epoch. There hovers before us as a high ideal a form of community that will so encompass the sixth epoch of culture that civilized human beings will quite naturally meet each other as brothers and sisters.

Eastern Europe will have to wait until the spirit self comes down to the earth and can permeate the souls of men.

-the Russian soul feels that spirit self is to descend, but that it can only descend into a community of men permeated with the consciousness of brotherhood,

the spirit of community is needed to bring about the descent of spirit self.

-our aim is to call together human beings who resolve to be brothers and sisters, and above whom hovers something that they strive to develop by cultivating spiritual science, feeling the good spirit of brotherhood hovering over and above them.

we seek for community above us, the living Christ in us.

Challenge of the Times, Lecture V, Specters of the Old Testament in the Nationalism of the Present, Rudolf Steiner, December 7, 1918, GA 186

This is the special mission of Christ in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch – to be the Healer, the One who heals. The other forms of the Christ impulse must remain in the background. For the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, the Christ impulse must work in the direction of seership. There the spirit self comes to development within which man cannot live without seership. In the seventh post-Atlantean epoch a sort of prophetic nature will develop as the third element, since it must, indeed, pass prophetically over into an entirely new period.

Faith, Love, and Hope: Towards the Sixth Epoch, Rudolf Steiner, December 3, 1911, GA 130

It is a feature of present-day man that he has something in his soul which is, as it were, a reflection of the nature of faith of the astral body. In the sixth post-Atlantean epoch there will be a reflection within man of the love-nature of the etheric body, and in the seventh, before the great catastrophe, the reflection of the nature of hope of the physical body.

Our age will be followed by one in which the need for love will cast its light. Love in the sixth culture-epoch will show itself in a very different form – different even from that which can be called Christian love. Slowly we draw nearer to that epoch; and by making those in the Anthroposophical Movement familiar with the mysteries of the cosmos, with the nature of the various individualities both on the physical plane and on the higher planes, we try to kindle love for everything in existence. This is not done so much by talking of love, as by feeling that what is able to kindle love in the soul is prepared for the sixth epoch by Anthroposophy. Through Anthroposophy the forces of love are specially aroused in the whole human soul, and that is prepared which a man needs for gradually acquiring a true understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. For it is indeed true that the Mystery of Golgotha came to pass; and the Gospels have evoked something which yesterday was likened to how children learn to speak. But the deepest lesson – the mission of earthly love in its connection with the Mystery of Golgotha – has not yet been grasped. Full understanding of this will be possible only in the sixth post-Atlantean culture-epoch, when people grow to realize more and more that the foundations for it are actually within them, and out of their innermost being – in other words, out of love – do what should be done. When forces wake in our souls which impel us to do what we should through love alone, we then discover in us something that must gradually become widespread in the sixth culture-epoch. Then in a man’s nature quite special forces of the etheric body will make themselves known.

There have been, and will continue to be, frequent incorporations of the individuality who appeared as Jeshu ben Pandira, until he rises from the rank of Bodhisattva to that of Buddha. According to our reckoning of time this will be in about 3,000 years. At the same time the teaching will contain — to an extent far greater than it is possible to conceive to-day — a magical moral force carrying to hearts and souls a full conviction of the eternal, deeply significant brotherhood of intellect and morality.

Maitreya Buddha’s task will be to enlighten human beings concerning the Mystery of Golgotha, and for this he will draw ideas and words of the deepest significance from the very language he will use. His words will imprint into men’s souls directly, magically, the nature of the Mystery of Golgotha. Hence in this connection also we are approaching what we may call the future moral age of man; in a certain sense we could designate it as a coming Golden Age.

The Christ will gradually reveal Himself to ever-higher powers in human beings, and how the teachers, who up to now have taught only individual peoples and individual men, will become the interpreters of the great Christ-event for all who are willing to listen. And we can point out how, through the dawning of the age of love, conditions for the age of morality are prepared.

Then will come the last epoch [seventh epoch], during which human souls will receive the reflection of what we call hope; when, strengthened through the force flowing from the Mystery of Golgotha and from the age of morality, men will take into themselves forces of hope. This is the most important gift they need in order to face the next catastrophe and to begin a new life.

Significant Facts Pertaining to the Spiritual Life of the Middle of the 19th Century, Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, October 31-November 7, 1915, GA 254

We are now living in the fifth epoch of the first post-Atlantean age; then come into the sixth and seventh epochs. During the sixth and seventh epochs, the rigidity of the etheric body will have a great influence upon the physical body and the physical body will become a faithful copy of the etheric. But these things will have no meaning whatever during the sixth epoch, our bodily form will then obtain its expression from the series of our incarnations. The human beings will differ very much from one another and their features will be strongly marked. When we encounter somebody, we shall then know exactly: This is a good person and that is an evil one. The human countenance will thus more and more express the moral qualities.

During the sixth epoch, even the outward physiognomy of our environment will have a very changed aspect. Particularly those animals which now supply meat for human consumption, shall then have died out. In the future, a great hymn of praise will be sung to vegetarianism, and people will tell one another, as if they were speaking of some ancient memory, that their ancestors used to eat meat. Not all the animals shall then have died out, but only certain species; particularly those animals shall have disappeared from the earth that have taken on the most rigid forms. Thus, even the earth and its outward physiognomy will undergo certain changes.

In the future we shall be so firmly bound to a rigid physiognomy, that it will constitute an almost fatal destiny, a real fate, which will be impressed upon our whole being. Moral qualities will be written upon their countenances, upon the physiognomy of their bodies.

Let us bear in mind the fact that if our etheric body is to be strong, so that it may be able to correct the mistakes of our physical body, its strength should be evident through the fact that we learn to consider the things which come to us from the etheric world as something very earnest and real. This will be the attitude which will be able to exercise a more and more healing influence. It will be necessary above all that we should take up spiritual science, so as to be prepared for the moment when the etheric shape of Christ shall appear to us, and so that we may take this up with due earnestness and in the right spirit.

We face a time in which we shall first of all discover the Christ, and in His following we shall gradually discover the etheric. Even then, this etheric element will have the strength to make of us individual human beings.

Apocalypse of John, Lecture IV, Rudolf Steiner, Nuremberg, June 1908, GA 104

This will no longer be the case in the epoch following the great War of All against All. Upon the forehead and in the whole physiognomy it will be written whether the person is good or evil. He will show in his face what is contained in his inmost soul. What a man has developed within himself, whether he has exercised good or evil impulses, will be written on his forehead. After the great War of All against All there will be two kinds of human beings. Those who had previously tried to follow the call to the spiritual life, who cultivated the spiritualizing and ennobling of their inner spiritual life, will show this inward life on their faces and express it in their gestures and the movements of their hands. And those who have turned away from the spiritual life, represented by the community of Laodicea, who were lukewarm, neither warm nor cold, will pass into the following epoch as those who retard human evolution, who preserve the backward forces of evolution which have been left behind. They will show the evil passions, impulses and instincts hostile to the spiritual in an ugly, unintelligent, evil-looking countenance. In their gestures and hand-movements, in every-thing they do, they will present an outer image of the ugliness in their soul. Just as humanity has separated into races and communities, in the future it will divide into two great streams, the good and the evil. And what is in their souls will be outwardly manifest, they will no longer be able to hide it.

Apocalypse of John, Lecture VIII, Rudolf Steiner, Nuremberg, June 1908, GA 104

Our epoch will end, when the seventh age has passed away, by the War of All against All.

It has become clear to us that this “I” of man has developed from a group-soul nature, from a kind of all-inclusive universal “I” out of which it has been differentiated. It would be wrong if man were to crave to go down again with his “I” into some sort of universal consciousness, into some sort of common consciousness. Everything which causes a man to strive to lose his “I” and dissolve it into a universal consciousness, is the result of weakness. He alone understands the “I” who knows that after he has gained it in the course of cosmic evolution it cannot be lost; and above all man must strive for the strength to make this “I” more and more inward, more and more divine.

Thus the “I” will be the pledge for the highest goal of man. But at the same time, if it does not discover love, if it hardens within itself, it is the tempter that plunges him into the abyss. For it is that which separates men from one another which brings them to the great War of All against All, not only to the war of nation against nation but to the war of each single person against every other person in every branch of life; to the war of class against class, of caste against caste and sex against sex. Thus in every field of life the “I” will become the apple of discord; and hence we may say that it can lead on the one hand to the highest and on the other hand to the lowest. For this reason, it is a sharp two-edged sword.

From the sixth age will be taken those human souls who have to pass over into the following epoch. After the War of All against All, there will be expressed in the features all that is in our age being prepared in men’s souls. The so-called seventh age will be of very little importance. We are now living in the fifth age of civilization; then follows the sixth, from which will proceed a number of people full of understanding for the spiritual world, filled with the spirit of brotherly love, which results from spiritual knowledge. The ripest fruit of our present civilization will appear in the sixth age. And that which follows it will be what is lukewarm, neither warm nor cold; the seventh age is something like an overripe fruit, which outlasts the War of All against All, but contains no principle of progress.

We are now looking with great longing towards the sixth civilization, to that which must be described as developing out of the spiritual marriage between West and East. The sixth stage will be the foundation for the new civilizations which will arise after the great War of All against All; just as our civilization arose after the Atlantean epoch. On the other hand, the seventh race of culture will be characterized by the lukewarm. This seventh age will continue into the new epoch, just as the sixth and seventh races of the Atlantean epoch continued into our epoch as races hardened and stiffening. After the War of All against All, there will be two streams in humanity: on the one hand the stream of Philadelphia will survive with the principle of progress, of inner freedom, of brotherly love, a small group drawn from every tribe and nation; and on the other hand, the great mass of all those who are lukewarm, the remains of those who are now becoming lukewarm (Laodicea).

After the great War of All against All, gradually the evil stream will be led over to good by the good race, by the good stream. This will be one of the principal tasks after the great War of All against All; to rescue what can be rescued from those who after the great war will only have the impulse to fight one another and to allow the “I” to express itself in the most external egoism. Such things are always provided for in advance in the spiritual guidance of humanity.

Do not consider it a hard thing in the plan of creation, as something which should be altered, that humanity will be divided into those who will stand on the right and those who will stand on the left; consider it rather as something that is wise in the highest degree in the plan of creation. Consider that through the evil separating from the good, the good will receive its greatest strengthening. For after the great War of All against All, the good will have to make every possible effort to rescue the evil during the period in which this will still be possible. For in this next great epoch men will understand how to set occult forces in motion. The good will have the task of working upon their brothers of the evil movement.

Everything is prepared beforehand in the hidden occult movements, but the deepest of all occult cosmic currents is the least understood. The most capable must be chosen and prepared to live beyond the period of the great War of All against All when men will confront those who bear in their countenances the sign of evil; they must be so prepared that as much good force as possible will flow into humanity. It will still be possible for those bodies, which are to a certain extent soft, to be transformed after the War of All against All by the converted souls, by the souls who will still be led to the good in this last epoch. In this way much will be accomplished. The good would not be so great a good if it were not to grow through the conquest of evil. Love would not be so intense if it had not to become love so great as to be able even to overcome the wickedness in the countenances of evil men. Those who are being prepared in their souls by such teachings, so that in the future they will, be able to accomplish this great task of education, are the pupils of the Manichaean School. Manes is that exalted individuality, who is repeatedly incarnated on the earth, who is the guiding spirit of those whose task it is to transform evil.

For if we have had to say that already in the sixth epoch men will show good and evil on their faces, we shall have to say all the more of the seventh that the form of man and the forms of all the other beings will be an expression of good and evil to a much higher degree than in the sixth epoch. All matter will bear the stamp of the spirit. There will be absolutely nothing in this seventh epoch that can be hidden in any way. Even those belonging to the sixth epoch will be unable to hide anything from him who has the necessary vision. An evil man will express his evil, a good man will express the good that is within him; but in the seventh epoch it will be quite impossible by speech to hide what is in the soul. Thought will no longer remain dumb so that it can be hidden, for when the soul thinks, its thought will ring forth outwardly. It will then be just as thought is already to the initiates today. To them, thought now rings out in Devachan. But this Devachan will have descended into the physical world, just as the astral world will have descended into the physical world in the sixth epoch. Even now the sixth epoch can be found in the astral world and the seventh in the heavenly world.

The sixth epoch is the descended astral world, that is to say the images, the expressions, the manifestations of it. The seventh epoch will be the descended heavenly world, the expression of it. And then the earth will have reached the goal of its physical evolution. The earth, together with all its beings, will then change into an astral heavenly body. Physical substance as such will disappear. The part which until then had been able to spiritualize itself, will pass over into the spirit, into astral substance. Imagine all the beings of the earth who up to that time have been able to express what is good, noble, intellectual and beautiful in their external material form; who will bear an expression of Christ Jesus in their countenances, whose words will manifest Christ Jesus, for they will ring out as resounding thoughts – all these will have the power to dissolve what they have within them as physical matter, as warm water dissolves salt. Everything physical will pass over into an astral globe. But those who up to that time have not progressed so far as to be a material and corporeal expression of what is noble, beautiful, intellectual and good, will not have the power to dissolve matter; for them matter will remain. They will become hardened in matter; they will retain material form. At this point in the earth’s evolution there will be an ascent into the spirit of forms which will live in the astral and which will separate from themselves another material globe, a globe which will contain beings unfit for the ascent because they are unable to dissolve the material part. In this way our earth will advance towards its future. Through the souls gradually refining matter from within, the substance of the earth will become more and more refined until it receives the power to dissolve. Then will come the time when the insoluble part will be ejected as a special planet. In the course of seven ages that which has hardened itself in matter will be driven out, and the power which drives it out will be the opposite force to that which will have forced the good beings upward.

What, then, will they have used to dissolve matter? The power of love gained through the Christ-principle. Beings become capable of dissolving matter through taking love into their souls. The more the soul is warmed by love the more powerfully will it be able to work on matter; it will spiritualize the whole earth and transform it into an astral globe. But just as love dissolves matter, as warm water dissolves salt, so will the opposite of love press down – again throughout seven stages everything which has not become capable of fulfilling the earth mission. The contrary of divine love is called divine wrath, that is the technical expression for it. Just as in the course of the fourth stage of civilization this love was imprinted in humanity, just as it will become warmer and warmer through the last stages in our epoch, the sixth and seventh, so on the other hand there is growing that which hardens matter around itself the divine wrath. In the last epoch, the epoch of the sounding of the trumpets, you would with spiritual vision see how men consist of delicate, spiritualized bodies; and how those who have hardened the material principle in themselves have preserved in themselves what today are the most important constituents of matter; and how this will fall as husks into the material globe which will be left after the epoch indicated by the sounding of the trumpets.

Man’s outer body will thus become an expression of the good by his receiving the highest message, the highest teaching there is on this earth; and this highest teaching is the message of Christ Jesus on the earth. We must take it up thoroughly, not merely with the understanding; we must take it into our innermost being, just as one takes nourishment into the physical body. And as humanity develops further it will take up the joyful message into its inner being more and more. It is just this reception of the message of love which it will have to regard as the result of the earth’s mission.

Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse, Cosmogony, Rudolf Steiner, Paris, June 14, 1906, GA 104

After our fifth epoch another will come, the sixth, which will be related to ours as a spiritually minded soul is related to a rationally inclined soul. This epoch will bring genius, clairvoyance, the creative spirit, to development. How will Christianity appear in the sixth epoch? The faithful reverence of the person of Christ, the god of the human being on the earth, has for a certain time taken the place of occult science and the mysteries. But the two streams will be united in the sixth epoch. The mechanical science of the physical plane will be elevated to the heights of spiritual creative power. That will be gnosis or spiritual knowledge. This sixth epoch will be radically different from ours. Great, tumultuous catastrophes will precede it, for the sixth epoch will be just as spiritual as ours is materialistic, but such a transformation can only occur through great, physical upheavals. Everything that will be formed in the course of the sixth epoch will call into existence the possibility of a seventh epoch which itself will form the end of these post-Atlantean cultures and will know completely different conditions of life from our own. This seventh epoch will end with a revolution of the elements, similar to the one that brought an end to the Atlantean continent.

Human beings always carry within themselves what they will see around them in future times. All that presently exists around us actually came forth from us in preceding ages.

What human beings possess today as their inner soul life, their thoughts, their feelings, will similarly be revealed externally and become the environment in which people live. The future resides in the hearts of men and women. The choice is ours to decide for a future of good or of evil. Just as it is true that the human being once left behind something that then became the world of animals, so too, what is evil in the human being will one day form a kind of degenerate humanity. At the present time, we can more or less hide the good or evil within us. A day will come when we can no longer do this, when the good or the evil will be written indelibly on our forehead, on our body, and even on the face of the earth. Humanity will then be split into two races. In the same way that we encounter boulders or animals today, in the future we will encounter beings of pure evil and ugliness. When a human being’s facial features become an expression of that individual’s karma, then people will separate themselves according to the stream in which they apparently belong. Everything depends on whether human beings have conquered the lower nature within them or whether this lower nature has triumphed over the spirit.

An Esoteric Cosmology, Lecture XVIII, The Apocalypse, Paris, May 25-June 14, 1906, GA  94

Our fifth epoch will be followed by another, the sixth. This sixth epoch will see the development of brotherhood among men, clairvoyance and creative power. What will Christianity be in the sixth epoch? To the priest in the Mysteries before Christ, there was harmony between science and faith. Science and faith were one and the same. When he looked up to the heavens, the priest knew that the soul was a drop of water from the celestial ocean, led down to Earth by the great streams of life flowing through space. Now that the attention of men is wholly directed to the physical world, faith has need of a refuge, of religion. Hence the separation between science and faith. Faith in the Person of Christ, of the God-Man on Earth has temporarily replaced Occult Science and the Mysteries of antiquity. But in the sixth epoch, the two streams will again unite. Mechanical science will become spiritually creative. This will be Gnosis-spiritual consciousness. This sixth epoch which will be radically different from our own, will be preceded by mighty cataclysms. It will be as spiritual as ours has been material. But the transformation can only be brought about by physical catastrophes. The sixth epoch will prepare for a seventh epoch. This seventh epoch will be the end of the Post-Atlantean civilizations and conditions of earthly life will be entirely different from those we know. At the end of the seventh epoch there will be a revolution of the elements analogous to that which put an end to Atlantis, and the subsequent eras will know a spirituality prepared by the two preceding Post-Atlantean periods.

Thus, there are seven great epochs of Aryan civilization in which the laws of evolution slowly come to expression. At first, man has within him what he later sees around him. All that is actually around us now, passed out from us in a preceding epoch when our being was still mingled with the Earth, Moon, and Sun.

All that lives today in the inner being of man, his thoughts, his feelings, will find expression in the outer world and become his surroundings. The future lies within man. He is free to make it good or evil. Just as he has already left the animal kingdom behind him, so the evil in him today will form a race of degenerate beings. In our age, man can to a certain extent hide the good or evil within him. But a time will come when he will no longer be able to do so, when the good and the evil will be written in indelible characters upon his countenance, upon his body, nay even upon the very face of the Earth.

Humanity will then divide into two races. Just as today we see rocks or animals, in that future age we shall encounter beings who are wholly evil, wholly ugly. In our time it is only the clairvoyant who is able to see moral goodness or moral ugliness in human beings. But when man’s very features express his karma, human beings will divide into groups of themselves, according to the stream to which they manifestly belong, according to whether the lower nature has been conquered or whether it has conquered the Spirit. This differentiation is beginning to operate little by little. When we derive understanding of the future from the past, and strive to realize the ideal of this future, its plan begins to unfold before us. A new race will come into being to be the link between the man of the present and the spiritual man of the future.

It was taught in Manicheism that from our age onwards the souls of men would begin to transmute into good the evil which will manifest in full force in the sixth epoch. In other words: human souls must be strong enough to bring good out of evil by a process of spiritual alchemy.

When the Earth begins to recapitulate the previous phases of its evolution, there will first be a re-union with the Moon, and then of this Earth-Moon with the Sun. The re-union with the Moon will mark the culminating point of evil on the Earth; the re-union with the Sun will signify, on the other hand, the advent of happiness, the reign of the ‘elect.’ Man will bear the signs of the seven great phases of the Earth. The Book with the Seven Seals, spoken of in the Apocalypse, will be opened. The Woman clothed with the Sun who has the Moon under her feet, refers to the age when the Earth will once again be united with Sun and Moon. The Trumpets of Judgment will sound for the Earth will have passed into the Devachanic condition where the ruling principle is not light but sound. The hallmark of the end of earthly existence will be that the Christ-Principle permeates all humanity. Having become like unto Christ, men will gather around Him as the hosts around the Lamb, and the great harvest of evolution will constitute the new Jerusalem.

The Work of Secret Societies in the World, The Atom as Coagulated Electricity, Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, December 23, 1904, GA 93

We are going forward to an age when, as I indicated recently, men will understand what the atom is, in reality. It will be realized – by the public mind too – that the atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. The thought itself is composed of the same substance.

The attainment of selflessness alone will enable humanity to be kept from the brink of destruction. The downfall of our present epoch will be caused by lack of morality. Our epoch and its civilization will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife. A tiny handful of men will make good and thus insure their survival in the sixth epoch of civilization. This tiny handful will have attained selflessness.

In the seventh epoch of civilization, this War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form. Great and mighty forces will be let loose by the discoveries, turning the whole earth-globe into a kind of self-functioning live electric mass. In a way that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved.

Freemasonry was aware of its duty to build an edifice dedicated to selfless ends. It is easier to become one of the tiny handful of men who ensure for themselves a place in the life of the future by using the good old forms than by having to struggle out of chaos. Thus, there are definite stages for the investigation of the secrets of future phases of evolution. The high Degrees of Freemasonry originally had no other aim or purpose than to be an expression, each one of them, of a future stage of the evolution of humanity. Thus, we have in Freemasonry something that has been both good and beautiful. A man who attained one Degree knew how he must work his way into the future; he could be a kind of pioneer. Nation, race, sex, position, religion … all these work upon human egoism. Only when man has overcome them will he be free of egoism.

The Manicheans, Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, November 11, 1904, GA 93

Manes will prepare for that epoch in which the men of the Sixth Root Race will be led by themselves, by the light of their own souls. Manes will create an overlapping stream, a stream which goes further than the stream of the Rosicrucians. The stream of Manes goes over to the Sixth Root Race which has been in preparation since the founding of Christianity. Christianity will appear in its perfected form in the Sixth Root Race.

A number of human beings must be formed into an organization, a form, in which the Christianity of the sixth root race can find its place. In this sixth root race, good and evil will form a far greater contrast than they do today. 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. The task of the sixth root race is to draw evil again into itself through gentleness.  It must express itself in the forming of a community which has to spread above all things: peace, love, and non-resistance to evil.

Buddha and Christ, The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas, Rudolf Steiner, Milan, September 21, 1911, GA 130

The main characteristic of the sixth epoch will be that very definite feelings regarding what is moral and what is immoral will arise in the souls of men. Delicate feelings of sympathy will be aroused by compassionate, kindly deeds and feelings of antipathy by malicious actions. The sixth epoch will be followed by the seventh, when the moral life will be still further deepened. Whereas in the sixth epoch man will take pleasure in good and noble actions, in the seventh epoch the natural outcome of such pleasure will be a moral impulse, that is to say there will be a firm resolve to do what is moral. The essential characteristic of the following epoch will be aesthetic pleasure in the good, aesthetic displeasure in the evil.

Let us think once again of the phases of evolution through the fifth, sixth and seventh post-Atlantean culture-epochs in order to grasp how intellectuality, aestheticism and morality will come to expression in men’s life of soul. In the sixth epoch, that is, from about the third millennium onwards, immorality will have a paralyzing effect upon intellectuality. The mental powers of a man who is intellectual and at the same time immoral will definitely deteriorate and this condition will become more and more pronounced in the future evolution of humanity. A man who has no morals will therefore have no intellectual power for this will depend entirely upon moral actions; and in the seventh epoch, cleverness without morality will be non-existent.

And during the next three thousand years the number of those able to behold the etheric Christ will steadily increase, until in about three thousand years, reckoning from the present time, there will be a sufficient number of human beings on the Earth who will need no gospels or other such records, because in their own life of soul they will have actual vision of the Christ.

Hence during the next three thousand years men will have to acquire in the physical world the power to behold the super-sensible Christ, and it is the mission of the Anthroposophical Movement to create, first of all, the conditions which make understanding of Christ possible on the physical plane, and then the power to behold Him.

The Christ-Individuality was on the Earth in the body of Jesus of Nazareth for three years only and does not come again in a physical body; in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch He comes in an etheric body, in the sixth epoch in an astral body, and in the seventh in a mighty Cosmic Ego that is like a great Group-Soul of humanity.

We therefore see how starting from a physical man on Earth, the Christ gradually evolves as Etheric Christ, as Astral Christ, as Ego-Christ, in order, as Ego-Christ, to be the Spirit of the Earth who then rises to even higher stages together with all mankind.

The words uttered by the Maitreya Buddha will contain a magic power that will become moral impulses in the men who hear them. The utterances of the Maitreya Buddha will be permeated in a miraculous way with the power of Christ.

Gospel of John, Lecture X, The Effect of the Christ Impulse Within Mankind, Rudolf Steiner, Hamburg, May 5-31, 1908, Ga 103

Just think how orderly the plants grow; each plant grows toward the sun and there is only a single sun. When in the same way, in the course of the sixth cultural epoch, that Spirit-Self draws into human beings, a Spiritual Sun will actually be present, toward which all men will incline, and in which they will become harmonized. That is the great perspective which we have in prospect for the sixth epoch.

But we now see clearly that an epoch will come, the sixth, which will be a very important one; important, because it will bring Peace and Brotherhood through a common Wisdom. Peace and Brotherhood, because not only will the Higher Self sink down into its lower form as Spirit-Self or Manas in certain chosen human beings, but also in that part of humanity passing through a normal evolution. A union of the human ego, as it has been gradually evolved with the higher, the unifying Ego, will then take place. We may call this a spiritual marriage and the union of the human ego with Manas or Spirit-Self was always so called in Esoteric Christianity. What is to happen to mankind in the sixth epoch must be slowly and gradually prepared. The power and force of what is to take place within mankind in the sixth epoch has to come from without.