Cosmic intelligence

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Cosmic intelligence, the world-thinking that gives rise to world-thought, is the original source of our thinking, our earthly-human intelligence. Furthermore, it is the spiritual world order that reveals itself through the whole cosmos. The spiritual hierarchies shape this world thinking in their interplay, which can therefore be characterised briefly as follows: „Intelligence means the mutual relationships of conduct among the higher hierarchies. What they do, how they behave to one another, how they are to one another, that is cosmic intelligence.“ (Lit.:GA 237, p. 168)

Bearers of Cosmic Intelligence

According to the Christian view, nine choirs of angels, arranged in three hierarchies, form this community of cosmic intelligences. The Kabbalists also refer to them as separate intellects (Hebrewשכלים נפרדים Sechalim nifradim), since they keep themselves completely separate from matter. In anthroposophy, the hierarchies refer to the spiritual beings involved in the world evolution, arranged according to their degree of development. Above them stands the Trinity as the highest source of divine creative power. The hierarchies have advanced in their spiritual development to the human being and have an essential share in his development as well as in the evolution of the Earth. According to their degree of spiritual maturity they can be classified into different groups. In anthroposophical language, the hierarchies are often referred to collectively when the spiritual beings mentioned are meant as a whole.

The year 333 represents an important turning point in the spiritual history of humanity, for it was around this time that the I struck into the intellectual or mind soul. Until the 4th century AD, the Elohim were the actual bearers of cosmic intelligence. They carried the world-thoughts created by the higher Hierarchies in their being and gave them the form appropriate to the earth evolution. Afterwards this task passed to the Spirits of Personality (see below). Thus the world thoughts could gradually pass over into the own human thinking.

Michael as Administrator of Cosmic Intelligence

Margarita Woloschin: Archangel Michael
Main article: Michael (archangel)

According to Rudolf Steiner, Michael was the administrator of cosmic intelligence as long as the Earth existed and thus the essential revelation of divine thought:

„The old Hebrew word Michael should actually be translated by the word God-shower; God-announcer would mean quite the same as Gabriel; God-wooer quite the same as Raphael. While we work in the physical world through our three soul forces, the beings of the higher hierarchies work through beings themselves. As we work through imagining, feeling, willing, a god works through Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. And this means the same for a God: I work through Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, - which means for our soul: I work through thinking, feeling and willing.“ (Lit.:GA 272, p. 203)

After the Spirits of Personality had taken over the bearing of world thoughts (see below), the thought content of world thinking also increasingly fell away from Michael and passed over to man from about the 9th century onwards:

„Now at all times the administrator of this cosmic intelligence, which radiates from the sun like light over the whole world, has been the very spirit designated by the name of Michael. Michael is the administrator of the cosmic intelligence. In more recent post-Christian times, however, the significant fact occurred that after the Mystery of Golgotha, Michael gradually lost the administration of intelligence, that it was lost to him. As long as the Earth existed, Michael administered the cosmic intelligence. And when a human being felt thoughts, that is, intelligent content, within himself, still in the time of Alexander, in the time of Aristotle, then he did not regard these thoughts as his own thought content, but as the thoughts revealed to him through the power of Michael, even if in those heathen times this being was called something else. But this thought content gradually fell away from Michael. And if we look into the spiritual world, we see this descent of intelligence from the Sun to the Earth, which took place up to the 8th century AD. In the 9th century after Christ, people begin, I would say, as a precursor of the later ones, to develop their own intelligence, and intelligence takes up residence in the souls of men. And Michael and his look down from the Sun to the Earth and can say: What we have administered through eons, that has sunk away from us, that has been lost to us, that has flowed down and is now in the souls of men on Earth.“ (Lit.:GA 240, p. 238f)

The thought content of the world

Through our human thinking we bring into our consciousness the thoughts which, according to their reality, belong to the world of which we ourselves are also a part.

„The materialist does not admit that the thoughts which we form in nature are previously contained in it. He believes that we put them into it.

The Rosicrucians of the Middle Ages placed a glass of water in front of the neophyte and said to him: 'In order for this water to be in the glass, someone must have put it in. It is the same with the ideas that we find in nature. They must have been put there by the divine spirits, the helpers of the Logos.

The thoughts we draw from the world are in truth found in it. Everything we create is necessarily included in it.“ (Lit.:GA 94, p. 34)

Thoughts are spread throughout the world, they are the forces at work in things. But they do not float about freely in the world, but are carried or streamed out by spiritual beings.

Laws of nature

Laws of nature are, as many physicists also emphasise, something spiritual. Walter Heitler, for example, who was instrumental in the quantum mechanical description of chemical bonds and also published a series of books on natural philosophy and criticism of science, in which he pointed out the dangers of a one-sided mechanistic-reductionist worldview, writes:

„A mathematically formulated law is something spiritual. We can call it that because it is human spirit that recognises it. The term spirit may not be very popular today, when an exuberant materialism and positivism is doing its sometimes quite nasty blossoms. But for this very reason we must be clear about what natural law and knowledge of nature is. Nature therefore follows this non-material spiritual element, the law. Consequently, spiritual elements are also anchored in nature itself. Among these is the mathematics necessary to formulate the law, even high and supreme mathematics. On the other hand, the researcher who is gifted to make a discovery is able to penetrate this very spiritual element that pervades nature. And here the connection between the human, discerning spirit and the transcendent elements existing in nature becomes apparent. We see the matter best if we use the Platonic mode of expression, although Plato did not yet know this kind of natural law. According to this, natural law would be an archetype, an "idea" - in the sense of the Greek word eidea - which nature follows and which man can perceive. This is then what is called the idea. Through this archetype, man is connected with nature. Man, who can perceive it, nature, which follows him as a law.“

Walter Heitler: Natural Science is Spiritual Science, p. 14f.

The physical laws, which are accessible to the rational mind, form only the lowest layer. Higher laws shape the living. Heitler also includes the harmony of the spheres in this context:

„As far as we have seen so far, the world of transcendence is home to the mathematical and physical laws that we grasp with the organ of our understanding. It is infinitely richer, richer also especially in much that is not accessible to the rational, analysing mind - as we shall see in the following chapters. We have every reason to be modest before what we do not know; our present knowledge may be so great - what we cannot do is still much greater. Could it not be that the 'harmony of the spheres' also has its home in the world of transcendence (indifferent to Kepler's relations) and is not mere fantasy, but that today we lack the organ of knowledge to recognise it?“

Walter Heitler: Nature and the Divine, p. 46

Laws of nature describe the one-sided spatial and temporal order of cosmic events, which is only a shadowy revelation of the much more comprehensive spiritual world order, which also includes a moral dimension. In reality, it is not the laws of nature as such that matter, but the spiritual beings who bring about the effects that appear to be natural law through their deeds. From the spiritual-scientific point of view, natural laws are thoughts of elementary beings who think on the physical plane but have their bodies in the astral world. These thoughts, however, are at the same time the effective forces in nature. (Lit.:GA 93a, p. 218) The actual directing spiritual beings behind the laws of nature are the Spirits of Rotation of Time. They belong to the hierarchy of the Primordial Angels and realise the directives of the Elohim. In the biblical story of creation they are called Jom (Hebrewיום "day") or in the plural Jamim or Days of Creation, who weave in the light as servants of the Elohim. In gnosis they were called aeons. As spirits of time they regulate the lawful course of the events of creation. In doing so, they guide the elemental beings, who for their part act as natural forces, in their actions. (Lit.:GA 136, p. 44ff)

Transition of cosmic intelligence from the Elohim to the Archai in the 4th century AD

Until about the 4th century AD, the Exusiai, the Spirits of Form, referred to in Genesis as the Elohim, were the bearers of cosmic intelligence. Then this task passed to the Archai, the Spirits of Personality. This process of handing over began in pre-Christian times and was not completed until the 14th century. As a result, man's access to the world of thought also became different. Whereas in earlier times thoughts were received from outside like sensory perceptions, they now occurred more and more within and thus increasingly came into the possession of the personality.

„When we turn to the supersensible world, we find through supersensible research that the thoughts by which men make the world comprehensible to themselves were borne outside in the cosmos - I might also say emanated; earthly expressions are little suited to these sublime processes and entities - that therefore these thoughts were borne, emanated, up to the 4th century A.D. by the beings of those hierarchies which we call Exusiai or Form Beings (see diagram page 47).

When an ancient Greek, out of the science of his mysteries, wanted to give an account of where he actually got his thoughts from, he had to do it in such a way that he said to himself: I turn my spiritual gaze upwards to those beings who are revealed to me through the science of the mysteries as the beings of form, as the forces of form, beings of form. These are the bearers of cosmic intelligence, the bearers of cosmic thoughts. They let the thoughts flow through the world events, and they pass these human thoughts on to the soul, which visualises these thoughts in an experiencing way. - Whoever, through a special initiation in those ancient times of Greek life, had lived in the supersensible world and had come as far as experiencing these form beings, saw these form beings, and in order to form the right picture, the right imagination of them, he had to add to them, as an attribute, the luminous thoughts flowing through the world. As an ancient Greek, he saw these form beings as luminous thought forces emanating from their limbs,

Drawing from GA 222, p. 47 (Plate 2)
Drawing from GA 222, p. 47 (Plate 2)

which then enter into the world processes and continue to work there as the world-creating intelligence powers. He said something like: The powers of form, the exusiai, they have in the universe, in the cosmos, the occupation of pouring thoughts through the world processes. - And just as sensuous science describes the activity of men by noting this or that which men do individually or together, so a supersensuous science, when it considers the activity of the forces of form for the characterised age, ought to describe how these supersensible beings let the forces of thought flow to each other, how they receive them from each other, and how in this letting flow and in this receiving are incorporated those world-processes which then outwardly present themselves to man as the phenomena of nature.

Now, in the development of humanity, the 4th century after Christ was approaching. And this brought the extraordinarily significant event for this supersensible world, that the Exusiai - the Powers, the Beings of form - gave up their powers of thought to the Archai, to the Primordial Forces or Primordial Beginnings (see diagram).

At that time, the Archai entered the profession that the Exusiai had formerly exercised. Such processes exist in the supersensible world. This was an outstandingly important cosmic event. From that time on, the Exusiai, the Form beings, only retained the task of regulating the outer sensory perceptions, that is, of controlling everything that exists in the world of colours, sounds and so on with special cosmic powers. So that he who looks into these things must say for the age which now came up after the 4th century AD: He sees how the world-dominating thoughts are handed over to the Archai, to the Primordial Beginnings, and how that which eyes see, ears hear, in its manifold world-formation, in its constant metamorphosis, is the fabric woven by the Exusiai, who formerly gave men the thoughts, who thus now give them the sensations, while the Primordial Beginnings now give them the thoughts.“ (Lit.:GA 222, p. 46ff)

„Such things are connected with thorough transformations of the souls of men. I say that this supersensible fact took place in the 4th century A.D.; but this is only an approximation, for it is, so to speak, only an intermediate time, while this transference took place over a long time. It was already in preparation in pre-Christian times and was only completed in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The 4th century is, so to speak, only the middle point in time, which has been indicated in order to point to something specific in the historical development of humanity.

Now, at the same time, we are in that point in the evolution of mankind in which the outlook into the supersensible world begins to darken completely for man. The soul's consciousness ceases to look and perceive supersensibly when this human soul surrenders itself to the world....

When the world of thoughts passes from the Form Beings to the Primordial Beings, from the Exusiai to the Archai, the human being feels the thoughts of his own beingness more, because the Archai live one step closer to the human being than the Exusiai. And when man begins to look supersensually, he has the following impression. Then he says: Well, there is this world which I survey as the sensuous one. Let us say that the yellow (see diagram on page 50) is the side turned towards my senses, the red is the side already hidden from the senses. Ordinary consciousness knows nothing at all of the relationships under consideration here. But the supersensible consciousness certainly has the sensation: If man is here (see diagram p. 50), then between man and the sensory impressions are Angeloi, Archangeloi and Archai; they are actually on this side of the sensory world. They are just not seen with the ordinary eyes, but they actually lie between the human being and the whole sensory tapestry.

Drawing from GA 222, p. 50
Drawing from GA 222, p. 50

And the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes are really only beyond; they are covered by the carpet of sense. So that the human being who has a supersensible consciousness feels the thoughts, after they have been handed over to the Archai, as approaching him. He feels them as if they now lay more in his world, whereas before they were behind the colours, the red, the blue, which is on things, and came, as it were, through the red, the blue, or also through the C-sharp or through the G. Since this handing over, he feels that he is in the world of the Archai. Since this handing over, he feels he has a freer intercourse with the world of thought. This also creates the illusion as if man made the thoughts himself.“ (S. 49f)

The Inhibiting Influence of Retarded Elohim

„Now it is so in the development of the universe that individual spiritual-cosmic beings always remain behind with the progress of the spiritual beings. Thus, as the spiritual entities progress in general, certain spiritual entities remain behind. And so also in this period, that is, in the first Christian centuries, spirits of form remained behind.

What does that mean: at that time, Spirits of Form remained behind? That is to say, certain Spirits of Form could not decide to hand over the world of thought to the Primordial Beginnings, to the Archai, they kept it for themselves. And so we have, among the spiritual beings who rule over human affairs, the correctly developed Primordial Forces with possession of the thought-world, and we have retarded Spirits of Form, retarded Elohim Beings, who now also administer the thought-world. Thus, in the spiritual current that rules over humanity, there arises an interaction of Primordial Forces, of Archai, and of Spirits of Form, of Elohistic Beings. Human beings are then exposed to the following: The one who is properly fitted for it by his karma, receives the impulses of his thinking through the Archai. Thus his thinking, though it remains objective, becomes his personal possession. He works out more and more the thoughts as his personal possession. Others do not get to work out the thoughts as their personal possession. They take over the thoughts either through hereditary relations from their parents and forefathers, or they take them over as conventional thoughts that prevail within their folk community, tribal community and so on.“ (Lit.:GA 222, p. 60)

„So that from this time, from the 4th century onwards, we see European historical life interspersed, I would like to say, with a perpetual spiritual struggle. The Archai fight for their rightful property in world affairs with the retarded Exusiai, with the Spirits of Form. Everything that happens in the Middle Ages in a west-east and east-west direction, everything that flows and weaves together in the migration of peoples, everything that fights each other, from the battles of the Huns to the battles of the Turks, from the migration of peoples to the crusades, where everything always has a west-east or east-west direction, all this is the sensual-physical, the historical image of a spiritual struggle, as I have just characterised it, which takes place behind the scenes of world history. One only understands the reality of historical events on Earth when one sees in them an image of what takes place in the supersensible-spiritual world between the beings of the higher hierarchies.“ (Lit.:GA 222, p. 61f)

Augustine of Hippo experienced these conflicts as an inner struggle of the soul:

„This personality, who is entangled with the soul in that struggle, is Augustine, the Catholic Church Father. I have described his soul struggle to you from various angles. But if one sees this struggle of the soul as the earthly image of a cosmic and supersensible event, then one notices in this spirit, which in youth leans towards Manichaeism, which then becomes a Roman Catholic in the strictest sense, one sees in this torn soul the earthly image, the earthly reflection of something that is happening cosmically behind the development of humanity. Augustine inclines towards the Manichaeans at the time when he is still entangled with his soul in the impulses of the Spirits of Form. They bring into his soul all that is good from earlier times, but it is no longer suitable for souls of his time. But through what he has received through the retarded spirits of form of good, of excellent old cultural goods, he is hindered from taking over with full development of his individual personality the new form of thought as it can be transmitted through the Spirits of Personality, the Archai, who have now become entitled to the thoughts. And he can take this on only by surrendering himself entirely to the dogma of the Church.“ (Lit.:GA 222, p. 64)


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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