Conditions of Consciousness

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The following seven Conditions of Consciousness or stages of consciousness (GermanBewusstseinsstufen) arise in the course of world evolution:

Man has already developed the first three levels, which at present essentially form our subconscious, in the past; today we have object consciousness and the three highest levels of consciousness will emerge on the future embodiments of our planetary system. Through systematic spiritual training, man can already anticipate something of these later levels of consciousness today.

The seven planetary Conditions of Consciousness

„First, the mineral consciousness. It is that of deep sleep (modern man is losing it).

Second: The vegetative consciousness. It is that of the ordinary state of sleep.

Thirdly: The consciousness of animals, which corresponds to the dream consciousness.

Fourth: The physical object consciousness. This is the normal waking state, while the previous two are atavistic relics.

Fifth: A consciousness that repeats the third degree, but retains the acquired objecthood. The images have certain colours and differ from the one who perceives them; the subjective attraction or repulsion disappears. On this new imaginative condition of consciousness, the reason acquired in the physical world retains its rights.

Sixth: Now it is no longer the dream but sleep that ascends to a new state of consciousness. We no longer perceive images alone, but we penetrate into the being of beings and things and perceive their inner sonority. On the physical plane we give each thing a name, but this name remains outside the thing. Only we ourselves can define ourselves from within by saying: I - this ineffable name of conscious individuality. This is the basic fact of all psychology. By this word we distinguish our personality from all the rest of the universe. But when we reach the world of sounds with our consciousness, every thing tells us its ineffable name. Through clairaudience we perceive the sound that expresses the innermost being of each thing and makes it a note in the universe, distinct from all others.

Seventh: One step further, and deep sleep becomes conscious. This state cannot be described because it is beyond all comparison. All that can be said is that it exists. These are the seven states of consciousness through which man passes. He will pass through others. There is always one main state in the middle, three after the past and three after the future, the latter bringing forth in a more elevated way the three lower ones. The traveller who steps forward is always in the middle of his field of vision.

Each state of consciousness develops in the course of seven Conditions of Life, and each Condition of Life in the course of seven Conditions of Form. Seven Conditions of Form then always form one Condition of Life; seven Conditions of Life together make up a planetary evolution, such as that of our Earth.“ (Lit.:GA 94, p. 95f)

Twelve creative cosmic Conditions of Consciousness

As Rudolf Steiner explained in some of his early lectures, there are a total of 12 Conditions of Consciousness. They correspond to the 12 signs of the zodiac. They comprise the 7 planetary Conditions of Consciousness mentioned above plus five further creative Conditions of Consciousness reserved for the creating Gods. The Christ has separated out these 12 stages from Himself. It is thanks to them that He now stands above them as the Thirteenth. Therefore, He Himself now becomes the servant of the twelve others to whom He owes His ascent. In the Gospel of John, this is expressed in the 13th chapter by the washing of the feet, which the Christ performs on the 12 apostles.

„There are seven degrees of human consciousness: trance consciousness, deep sleep consciousness, dream consciousness, waking consciousness, psychic, superpsychic and spiritual consciousness. Actually there are twelve Conditions of Consciousness; the other five are creative Conditions of Consciousness. They are those of the creators, the creating Gods. These are connected with the twelve signs of the zodiac. Man must pass through these twelve stages one after the other. He ascended through trance consciousness, deep sleep consciousness and dream consciousness until he reached the bright daytime consciousness of today. In the following planetary stages of development he will reach still higher stages of consciousness. All that he has already passed through he also has within himself. The physical body has the dull trance consciousness acquired by man on the old Saturn. The etheric body of man has the consciousness of dreamless sleep as it arose on the old Sun. The astral body dreams, just as it dreams in dreams during sleep. The dream consciousness originates from the old lunar time. On the present earth man reaches waking consciousness. The ego has the bright daytime consciousness.

The higher development consists in that which is in the being putting itself out, just as man put out the serpent and thereby retains the serpent at a higher level in his spinal cord. In a still further development, people will not only put stones, plants and animals out into the world, but Conditions of Consciousness. In a beehive, for example, there are three kinds of beings who have a common soul. Apparently quite separate beings work together. It will be the same with man; he will separate his organs. He will have to consciously direct all the individual brain molecules from the outside. Then he will have become a higher being. It will be the same with the Conditions of Consciousness. One can imagine a high being who has put all twelve Conditions of Consciousness out of himself. It will then be there as the thirteenth and will say to itself: I could not be what I am if I had not separated these twelve levels of consciousness out of myself. - We have this case in Christ with the twelve apostles. The twelve apostles represent the Conditions of Consciousness through which Christ passed. This can be seen in the Gospel of John through the description of the washing of the feet in the thirteenth chapter, which indicates that Christ owes it to the apostles that he has reached the higher level of consciousness: Verily, mark this, the servant is never to be esteemed higher than the Lord. - The more highly developed being has left the others behind on the path and has now itself become the servant of the others.“ (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 20f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
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.