Seven secrets of life

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The figure Abyssi Duplicatae or «Des doppelt flüchtig und fixen Abgrundes» from the Aurea catena Homeri (1723). The following saying serves as an explanation:

One abyss the other calls out,
Together they make a hard strife:
The fleeting shall become quite fixed,
Water and vapour turn to earth.
Heaven itself must be earthly,
Or else no life will enter the earth.
The highest shall be the lowest,
The lowest shall become the highest fine.
That which is fixed shall become quite fleeting,
The earth shall be water and vapour.
The earth must fly up to the sky,
Heaven must crawl into the centre of the earth.
Thus heaven and earth must be reversed,
Let the lowest become the highest.
The fleeting dragon kills the fixed one,
The fixed one kills the fleeting one.
So it must come to be revealed in the day,
The quintessence, and what it can do.

There are Seven Secrets of Life. Rudolf Steiner often discussed individual ones, but rarely presented all seven in context. In the Paris lecture of 13.6.1906 it is said:

„There are seven secrets of life which have never yet been spoken of outside the occult brotherhoods. Only in the present epoch is it possible to speak of them exoterically. They are also called the seven "inexpressible" or "unspeakable" secrets.

These are the secrets:

  1. The Secret of the Abyss.
  2. The Secret of the Number. (One can study it in Pythagorean philosophy).
  3. The Secret of Alchemy. (This can be understood through the works of Paracelsus and Jakob Böhme).
  4. The Secret of Birth and Death.
  5. The Secret of Evil, which the Apocalypse deals with.
  6. The Secret of the Word, the Logos.
  7. The Secret of Godliness; it is the most profoundly hidden.” (Lit.: GA 246, p. 253/GA 094, p. 111[1])

From earlier lectures given in Berlin, of which handwritten notes by Mathilde Scholl and Marie von Sivers exist, the connection of these 7 secrets of life with the 7 planetary stages of world evolution becomes clear:

„Man has entered into development as a universal being. He then becomes a special being. At first he separated himself as an individual sphere from a general sphere. These individual human spheres went through the various transformations. From one of the later transformations arose the so-called etheric double body. This stage of the first separation from the All-being is called the "sinking of consciousness into the abyss". This is reached in the physical stage of the first planet. It is preceded and followed by 24 stages. The middle stage, the 25th, is the densest. The physical disposition originated as a coarse physical sphere. The earth then resembled our ether or the light matter of our present earth, and after the fall of consciousness into the abyss it had the form of a kind of mulberry.

On the second planet, in deep sleep consciousness (dreamless sleep), man immersed himself in number. The spheres created on the first planet work in a certain regular harmony. What remains of this second state is that the chemical elements are not connected in any arbitrary way; colours and sound vibrations are ordered according to their wave number. Thus on the second planet we find the arrangement according to measure, number and weight.

In the first stage (Saturn) there was only one kingdom, in the second stage (Sun), when man had immersed himself in number, there was the possibility of a separation into two kingdoms. Firstly, a kingdom came into being that remained continuous up to the human being, secondly, a kingdom of all that was not suitable to develop up to the human being; this was separated out as a special second kingdom (disposition to the animal and plant kingdom, to the lower living). Law: no higher development can be achieved without something being separated out that is left behind on a lower level. The measure of development is a definite one, and is indicated in this disposition of the first planet. From this follows the law of life. This is the law of unequal but full development: no taking without giving. The first obligation of the esotericist is: to give back.

On the third planet, a third thing developed in addition to the number: the law of elective affinity. It consists in people developing sympathy and antipathy for each other. This law is found in all realms, for example in chemistry, in the mineral kingdom. This also made it possible for a new kingdom to form. The animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, the mineral kingdom were formed. Man, as we see him today, did not exist at that time. He was then still a kind of animal, on the kamic stage. The spirit had not yet entered the body.

On the fourth planet, in the daytime consciousness, there is also the possibility that certain beings will not be subject to the law of elective affinity. There must come an overarching form of life. This is birth and death, which did not exist before. This could only come about through the fact that beings no longer existed in isolation, but were held together by a supersensible thread of life. The individual incarnations are strung together as if on a thread. The being now becomes manifold in time through birth and death. Before, human beings were only manifold in space. The multiplication on the third planet (the Moon) happened by cutting off, splitting, and everything lived in sympathy and antipathy to each other. Everything that reproduces by fission is materially immortal. Therefore the lowest animal living beings, monads (according to Weismann) are immortal. Death is only possible when fertilisation is added to fission. Birth and death can only be bought by continuing to split off beings and by man developing at the expense of other beings. That is why birth and death are also imposed on all other beings who have no individual karma. Man had to push down the kingdoms below him by one each.

What is connected with birth and death is man's karma. On the next planet, with the increased consciousness, man will no longer be conscious only of the effects of karma, but will be conscious in karma itself. His inner strength will have grown in such a way that he will have the will to represent this karma. He will bear it in his form, in his physiognomy. Then his physiognomy will show what is in the astral and mental body. Then it will happen that the good man will be really good and the bad man will be really bad. Such evil then only exists among those who have trained themselves as black magicians. That is where the great decision happens, the separation between the good and the evil. That happens on the fifth planet. From the fifth planet onwards, one can only speak of the evolution of good.

On the sixth planet, in the further development, everything is eliminated that is senseless, that which shows itself on the lower mental plan as senseless, illogical. This sixth planet is the planet of the Logos, of the Word, because the Word gives meaning.

On the seventh planet there is a completely purified state, where the tasks of the preceding planets will have been fulfilled, where the fruits will be drawn from them - that is the state of godliness.“ (Lit.:GA 89, p. 144ff)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. The original paper by Edouard Schuré is in French. Instead of "unspeakable" it says "nameless" mysteries in GA 94, which is a translation error. Moreover, in the 4th secret, birth is not mentioned.