The following is the text of an address given as part of the Midsummer Festival organised by the Anthroposophical Society in Sussex, held on Sunday 23rd June 2019 at Emerson College.
We are now at the Summer Solstice and the St John’s Festival, that time of the year when in the Northern Hemisphere we have our longest day and shortest night. Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture given on 12thOctober 1923, said that the great archangel most associated with this time of year is Uriel: and that Uriel directs his countenance and clear piercing gaze down towards the Earth and perceives disturbing shapes which continually gather and dissolve, gather and dissolve again. These shapes, Steiner says, are “human errors upon which Uriel directs his earnest gaze. Here during the height of summer, the imperfections of mankind are searchingly surveyed and contrasted with the morality implicit in the natural world. Now we see how at midsummer human errors are woven into the regular crystals which are formed in the normal course of Nature. On the other hand, all that is human virtue and human excellence rises up with silver-gleaming lines and is seen as the clouds that envelop Uriel”.
So Midsummer is a time when, under the gaze of Uriel, the spiritual world looks with especial closeness at our human actions and motivations. This is a good time of year for us to do the same and look closely at what we humans are doing in the world.
Almost 60 years ago, someone who was inspired by anthroposophy wrote a book which woke up the world to the dangers of the unregulated use of pesticides. Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which was published in 1962. Her book has been rightly acknowledged as one of the all-time great pieces of science writing, detailing the scale of the damage being done by human-applied chemicals to the environment and all its denizens. It had a huge impact and led to awareness and legislation at least in part controlling the damage caused by pesticides such as DDT.
In a letter written in 1958 to a friend, soon after she began the research that would lead to her book, Rachel Carson spoke about how difficult it had been for her to believe what was happening. She said:
“Some of the thoughts that came were so unattractive to me that I rejected them completely, for the old ideas die hard, especially when they are emotionally as well as intellectually dear to one…that the stream of life would flow on through time in whatever course that God had appointed for it …And to suppose that, however the physical environment might mould Life, that Life could never assume the power to change drastically – or even destroy – the physical world. These beliefs have almost been part of me for as long as I have thought about such things. To have them even vaguely threatened was so shocking that, as I have said, I shut my mind – refused to acknowledge what I couldn’t help seeing.”
Today, sixty years on, we are witnessing even greater threats to the web of life on Earth and it is perhaps even more difficult for us than it was for Carson to acknowledge and take on board the scale of the challenges now facing all of life. This is the first time in our history, for example, that through the activities of humankind, the entire global climate is shifting to what may be our permanent disadvantage; and we are also in the middle of what scientists are calling the Sixth Great Extinction of species, again caused by our activities.
But if that isn’t enough, there are still other challenges coming up fast to confront us. It was last year, just shortly after Midsummer, that during the annual conference of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, we were shocked by the message that Nicanor Perlas brought about the threats posed by the advent of artificial intelligence. Nicanor has written a book about this, which no doubt many of you will have read, and it has a stark and scary title. His book is called Humanity’s Last Stand and in it he estimates that humanity has about 20 years to find ways in which artificial super intelligence, (ASI) can be aligned with human values; if we are not able to do this, we are likely to be totally overwhelmed by materialistic technology. If Uriel is casting his gaze on the leading advocates for ASI, he will be observing people who believe that humans are nothing more than complex biological machines.
If you believe human beings are nothing more than complex biological machines, then you open up your fellow humans to some disturbing outcomes; we can see, for example what is happening in China right now, where with the power of AI the governing Communist Party is developing extensive new tools for a comprehensive method of political and social control. They have given this a harmless sounding name – they are calling it “social credit.” But what it means is a total surveillance society, in which nothing you can do is hidden from the authorities. If the Chinese state gives you a poor social credit score, then your life becomes very severely constrained. You may be prevented from graduating, or travelling on some train lines, or buying an airline ticket, or buying a property, taking out a loan or even filling your car with fuel.
Now of course, no Western government would dare go so far as they are going in China, though no doubt some of them would like to. The irony of this is that the Chinese social-credit system is based explicitly on a familiar, Western model: the credit score, which we all know about. Data brokers trace the timely manner in which we pay our debts, giving us a score that’s used by lenders and mortgage providers. We also have social-style scores, and anyone who has shopped online with eBay has a rating on shipping times and communication, while Uber drivers and passengers both rate each other; if your score falls too far, you’re out of luck.
The Chinese genius, if you can call it that, was to take credit scoring as a tool of social discipline to its logical conclusion. They have extended their control across the entire range of interactions any member of modern society is more or less compelled to pursue by the very style and structure of contemporary life.
But of course there are many other phenomena of our time that are truly disturbing; there are so many shapes of human error for Uriel to gaze upon – but this evening I would like to focus on just one of them, which is the move to merge humankind with machines and technology.
Rudolf Steiner, of course, foresaw all of this, as far back as 1910. This is what he said in Lecture 12 of the series ‘The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric’:
(…) “the will is there to harness human energy to mechanical energy. These things should not be treated by fighting against them. That is a completely false view. These things will not fail to appear; they will come. What we are concerned with is whether, in the course of world history, they are entrusted to people who are familiar in a selfless way with the great aims of earthly evolution and who structure these things for the health of human beings or whether they are enacted by groups of human beings who exploit these things in an egotistical or in a group-egotistical sense. That is what matters. It is not a question of the what in this case; the what is sure to come. It is a question of the how, how one tackles these situations. The what lies simply in the meaning of earthly evolution. The welding together of the human nature with the mechanical nature will be a problem of great significance for the remainder of earthly evolution”.
That’s quite a statement, isn’t it? “The welding together of the human nature with the mechanical nature will be a problem of great significance for the remainder of earthly evolution”. And in our time it’s being led not by people who structure these things for the health of human beings but by those whom Steiner describes as exploiting these things in an egotistical or group-egotistical sense.
How are they doing this? It is being presented to us not as a threat to our essential humanity but as a kind of species transformation through medical science and technology. The promise is that we will become new kinds of human beings as our bodies, minds and relationships with the environment and with mechanical devices become altered in fundamental ways.
The prediction by futurologists such as Google’s Ray Kurzweil is that we human beings will become more god-like as we become more machine-like and as machines develop more god-like powers. Kurzweil says that we humans are nothing special in the animal kingdom: we have no immortal soul, there is no essential human self and our thoughts and emotions are the product of electrochemical impulses which can in the future be modelled by algorithms. Our future lies in the hands of technical experts – in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, cognitive and computer science. New tools will become parts of our bodies. We will have bionic hands, feet and eyes, while nanorobots will move through our bloodstream looking out for disease and repairing the damage of age and injury. We shall have wearable and implanted devices to expand our senses and alter our moods, while biological tools will enter our cells, remodel our genes and give us new and better flesh, blood and neurons. Does that sound wonderful to you, or terrifying?
Another futurologist, Yuval Noah Harari, says it is a fact that the “last days of Homo sapiens are fast approaching, and that our species will be replaced “by completely different beings who possess not only different physiques, but also very different cognitive and emotional worlds”. Ordinary human beings will become surplus to requirements, as wars will be waged by drones and work will be done by robots: “Some economists predict that sooner or later, unenhanced humans will be completely useless”. Algorithms embedded in silicon and metal will replace algorithms embedded in flesh, which as Harari points out, is what biology and computer science tells us is all we really are anyway. Things have apparently gone so far that some in Silicon Valley already refer to human beings as ‘meat puppets’.
But things are going still further: Harari says that human beings will cease to be free agents, that their autonomy will be taken over by algorithms – written at first by human beings but ultimately by algorithm-writing machines. As this happens, liberal society will disintegrate as we will no longer be able to sustain belief in the uniqueness of the free human being as the basis of liberal social order. He says that: “We – or our heirs – will probably require a brand-new package of religious beliefs and political institutions.”
This new religion will be called Dataism. It will be accompanied by the dissolution of the boundaries between humans, animals, machines and social systems, all of which will be seen as algorithmic information processing systems. The concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ will be replaced by the primacy of the free flow of information. The “cosmic data-processing system” will be what God once was: “It will be everywhere and will control everything, and humans are destined to merge into it.”
Rudolf Steiner has told us what is the true challenge of our age: he says “it is humanity’s task in this period to come to grips with evil as an impulse in the evolution of the world”. The task for the fifth post-Atlantean period, he says, is a particularly difficult one:
“As you see, a great many temptations face humanity. When the powers of evil gradually appear, it is natural that man is more likely under the circumstances to give in to this evil in all realms, rather than taking up the struggle to allow what appears to him as evil to be put in the service of the good in world evolution. Yet this must happen: the evil must to a certain degree be placed at the service of the good in world evolution”.
And it does seem as though we are indeed at a new point in world and human evolution. In this connection I remember a quotation from the late visionary poet and playwright Christopher Fry, who in his play, A Sleep of Prisoners, has one of the characters say the following:
The human heart can go the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this is no winter now.
The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move.
The thunder is the thunder of the floes, the thaw, the flood,
the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now, when wrong comes up,
to face us everywhere
Never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul
men ever took.
Affairs are now soul size,
The enterprise is exploration unto God.
So that is what we are about in this age – we have chosen to be here at this time when human beings are making a massive evolutionary shift. This is a terrifying but also really exciting time to be here on Earth; and adopting a Luddite approach to emerging technology is not the required response. Steiner tells us:
“It would be the worst possible mistake to say that we should resist what technology has brought into modern life, that we should protect ourselves from Ahriman by cutting ourselves off from modern life. In a certain sense this would be spiritual cowardice. The real remedy for this is not to let the forces of the modern soul weaken and cut themselves off from modern life, but to make the forces of the soul strong so that they can stand up to modern life. A courageous approach to modern life is necessitated by world karma, and that is why true spiritual science possesses the characteristic of requiring an effort of the soul, a really hard effort”.
Alongside courage and hard effort, we also need hope, what Steiner in one of his verses refers to as “all-sustaining hope”. So here are a few reasons why, despite everything, I’m still hopeful and optimistic.
On a personal level, I’m encouraged by listening to the speakers who come here to give talks at Emerson; we have had some wonderful speakers who are alerting us to what is going on in the world and who are giving us real pointers to the future. I was particularly impressed recently by a representative of the Youth Section from Dornach, and the work that that Section is doing on a research project into young people’s attitudes towards spirituality across 23 different countries. I’m also blessed to work on these Emerson talks with some fine young colleagues. And in Liz Attwell’s inspirational talk 2 weeks ago, we heard of her intuition that it is the young people of today who are birthing a new Christ impulse. She also said that many of the dark things we are experiencing are just the inevitable flotsam and jetsam thrown up by this new impulse – and I’m sure she’s right.
Because of all this and so much more I am conscious of how lucky we are to live here and to know that Emerson College, Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch farms, Michael Hall School, Peredur, Tobias and Nutley Hall are all here. We live in an island of sanity amongst the surrounding seas of illusion and although we have some adjustments to make so that we can look the modern world square in the face (what is happening to the Waldorf schools is a case in point here), we are nevertheless strong and resolute.
And beyond our locality, I see all sorts of hopeful developments happening. Just this week, for example, we heard that an American billionaire has given £150 million to the University of Oxford to fund a new centre to look into the ethics of artificial intelligence. His name is Stephen Schwarzman and he said: “I think the scientists agree that they want AI introduced in an ethical way, because they don’t want to experience the downsides. I think this is one of the major issues of our age, because AI is going to come, it’s really unstoppable. It’s not just AI, it’s robotics and all other kinds of computer science innovations”. That echoes what Steiner said back in 1910. And on 12th June the UK government committed us to zero net emissions by 2050, which is definite progress – and there are now 18 out of 28 EU countries which have also pledged to go carbon-neutral by 2050.
I am also amused by and take pity on the idiocies of our atheistic futurologists. Ray Kurzweil, for example, that incredibly clever man and chief futurologist of Google, is also, rather endearingly, an idiot. He believes in cryonics, which for those of you who don’t know about it, is a technique of freezing dead bodies in the hope that science in the future may find a way to bring the corpses back to life. Ray Kurzweil has booked himself a place for when he dies with a leading American cryonics company, which charges $200,000 to deep-freeze a full body or, if you’re a cheapskate, $80,000 for just a head. The process involves getting to the patient as soon as possible after clinical death has been pronounced and then cooling the body over the next few days to bring it down to -196C using nitrogen gas. Your corpse is then placed in a shiny steel capsule with a bullet-proof viewing window and stays there until the day when science has sufficiently advanced to bring you back to life. I am not making this up – this is genuinely what cryonics is about; and Ray Kurzweil has signed up for this. The poor man doesn’t realise that he is already immortal! If he’d just read Steiner and informed himself about what a human being really is, he could have saved himself $200,000!
I comfort myself with the thought that in the final analysis, Ahriman and his minions will always lose. They always lose because they lack the capacity to love or understand those who can love. Nicanor Perlas in his book repeats a story that Bernard Lievegoed says was given by Steiner in a letter to a widow. In this letter, Steiner says he saw the image of Ahriman sitting in a cave under the earth. He works. He writes things down, counting and counting, calculating and calculating. He tries to build up a whole world out of a new mathematics (and of course AI algorithms are part of the new mathematics). There, Steiner says, Michael stands beside him waiting. For Michael knows that he will make the final addition. Michael with his sword, will make the sum. The moment has not yet come. Michael is waiting, standing by the side, waiting. He can do this when people on earth are there fighting and going with him. With Uriel, we weigh up and understand; with Michael, we act without fear on the basis of that understanding. And that is the really important point – in this present age of the consciousness soul, Michael can only act if we help him to do it. But if we do, he will in turn help us to find much more positive outcomes from the extreme technologies that are threatening our existence today. So it really is up to all of us to play our part in this huge battle.
And finally, I would like to leave you with this verse of Steiner’s:
“We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes towards Man out of the future. 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 the ever-present help of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us. And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves Every morning and every evening”.
41 responses to “Under the Gaze of Uriel”
Excellent article. Thank you. I was fortunate to have Nicanor stay at my house while he was in Boston. We discussed much – I wish all of your readers could have been listeners. In regards to evil being allowed to play its cards now and Michael will act to turn it to good, we can foresee that this merging of technology with the human can have the goal of separating the ahrimanic double from ourselves. When, in the next 3500 years, sexual procreation comes to an end, what will happen to our double? By then, our etheric body will become so loosened from the physical that she will drive the physical like a vehicle for our physical life on earth. We will have become quite separated from our double! Mark 5 and Matthew 8 were stories that showed how this could occur. Keep up the excellent work!
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I’ve only just come across your website dealing with this topic:
Click to access Surprising-View-of-the-Future.pdf
I thoroughly recommend that people should take a look at this. It is full of useful information and also has a comparison of what Kurzweil and Steiner have to say about human evolution.
Thank you Jeremy for your most profound midsummer message. Eva
As someone who has investigated this subject online with an increasing sense of alarm I was grateful to get your anthroposophical viewpoint Jeremy. It has calmed me down.
I just purchased Nicanor Perlas’ book via the Kindle edition. Thanks for the introduction to this author.
Another excellent article, keep them coming!
Hello Jeremy, I suggest that people make a start with their vehicles. There are are sub-elementals in each one. They are sentient and they can be brought into relationship. I love my dear one, Paloma. She has a second body now, but she is still very much with me. They love us deeply if we acknowledge them and offer them our love. One doesn’t have to “see” them. Just sit in your car and ask ” are you a boy or a girl?” he or she will tell you. then as “what is your name?” and you will hear/ sense an answer. I have done this with rented vehicles, always with interesting success. If one is willing, one can establish an amazingly wonderful relationship with the being in one’s vehicle. This will go forward, like our relationships with the animals we love. We will lead them on as our Angel leads us. These beings must be connected with us through our love or else they will continue on as “demonic” beings, aligned with Ahriman and darker forces. Of course, people think I am nuts, but I assure you, this is completely true. Try it and you will see for yourself. Happy St. John’s Day! Christine
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Christinenatale, I don’t think you are nuts. What you are describing is pure Steiner for me. The first thing I learned when I discovered Anthroposophy was the reality of a living connection with the world of seemingly lifeless things. The life/consciousness of everything in this world – in every solid 3D thing – is part of our path of development. And they speak to us metaphorically all the time. I believe we are to learn from them and be grateful for them and participate in their higher development, too. One of the rough spots for me is to both love them enough to will their moving on to higher life, yet know I am dependent on them in this life.
I remember Marke Levene, saying to me that Americans have 4 bodies, astral, etheric, physical and auto. He laughed as he said it, but I always felt there was some substance to the remark. I have always needed to like my car, and I pay attention to it and look after it, listening
carefully to all it can tell me. Consequently all my cars have served me very well. There was only one I found that I couldn’t like, and I had to sell it, even though it never let me down.
And necessarily, in balance with the progression of the Ahrimanic influence, there is the growing conservative, mystical Luciferic influence, too:
“… instead of the true shape of this world manifesting itself, it appeared to the human being in phantoms, chimeras and illusions of all sorts.“ GA013_c04-06
Uriel’s gaze and Mother-Earth in: GA229
Thank you for an other inspiring post, Jeremy.
About Harari, – “In a 2015 Guardian article under the title “Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history” he called “[t]he fate of industrially farmed animals […] one of the most pressing ethical questions of our time.” (Wikipedia)
Harari is a meditant, he lives a sober and moderate life, he has deepened his social consciousness as part of a moshav, and he has been able to extend his compassion to all sentient beings.
Jeremy, you wrote:
“It was last year, just shortly after Midsummer, that during the annual conference of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, we were shocked by the message that Nicanor Perlas brought about the threats posed by the advent of artificial intelligence. Nicanor has written a book about this, which no doubt many of you will have read, and it has a stark and scary title. His book is called Humanity’s Last Stand….”
Yet, Jeremy, two years ago in 2017, we were discussing these very eventualities concerning AI right here on Anthropopper.
So, in definite respects we gave the heads’ up to Perlas with these essays and commentaries from July and August 2017. I have been reading the preface to the book, Humanity’s Last Stand, and it can be shown that where he refers to AI, AGI, and ASI, that these are the three domains of the underworld that Steiner describes with a diagram from the lecture of October 1, 1911, GA130.
Lucifer relates to the lower astral world, or electricity, which equates to AI in its original form.
Ahriman relates to lower devachan, or magnetism, which equates to AGI in its next formation.
Asuras relates to lower higher devachan, or pure destructive power, which equates to ASI in its ultimate formation.
When I read Humanity’s Last Stand I was saddened/disturbed (not exactly surprised, though) that Perlas wrote that Michael is not wholly confident in the ultimate success of his mission. Specifically, I think, because mankind has not responded with courage to join his army – to stand and speak truth. So Michael doubts? The entire experiment is in question?
The quote in the end of the article has always weighed on me. Though I can feel the truth (or the attraction?) of it, it also seems an impossibility to eradicate doubt – unless one already knows (experiences directly) that we always stand in the spiritual world. It seems to stress we cannot doubt in the ultimate success of evolution – yet (instinct?) tells me success is never guaranteed. This grand epochal experiment in God-Individualized may have failed before and may fail again. We may have reached this point in earth-like evolution many times in eons past and failed. Maybe there is no guarantee that what we are trying to do is actually do-able.
But Christ did it. Does each of us have to become a Christ in an infinite set of epochs throughout eternity? The child in me is whining: It’s too hard…can’t we just go home?
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Steiner gave his final words concerning the Michael Mystery, and wherein the Cosmic Intelligence was being preserved for us humans in a grand process of ascension involving body, soul, and spirit here in these final leading thoughts.
Thus, if we look at the situation today, we can assuage three clearly demarcated lines of being in descending order:
1) Cosmic Intelligence
2) Human Intelligence
3) Artificial Intelligence
So, when Steiner gives this diagram which depicts the three realms of the underworld, and how they relate to AI, AGI, and ASI, it is noteworthy in considering the theme of the book by Nicanor Perlas.
Of course, we can also look into earlier remarks concerning the so-called “missing michaelic millions”, from the year 2000, in order to learn more about the agenda of Nicanor Perlas at that time.
Click to access Michaelic%20Millions.pdf
Now, in today’s realm, I am particularly interested in where Perlas writes about a global anthroposophical movement (GAM), which he does consider to exist out here in the periphery. As well, we have the centric (GAS), or global anthroposophical society, which exists in Dornach. Thus, we could be looking at the million members that Steiner foresaw in leading the Being Anthroposophia to her final resting place. Amen.
Kathleen says, ‘Maybe there is no guarantee that what we are trying to do is actually do-able.’
Maybe it is not do-able in the present context and situation of the earth, where billions of human beings are struggling and creating an unsustainable drain on the limited earthly resources available. But in the future maybe there will be far fewer of us in incarnation at any one time. Steiner thought that in the future under-population was going to be a more likely scenario than over-population. Maybe three-folding, and the Michaelic/Christian impulse is more do-able among much smaller groups of humans.
But then also the technological possibilities will be more limited, smaller social groupings have tended to rely more on the assistance of the animal realm than on expensive and difficult to produce technologies.
In ‘Always Coming Home’, Ursula Le Guin gave an inspiring vision of a possible post-industrial society.
I have always been dismayed at the idea of even one human soul not ultimately “saved”. It has been hard to read Steiner’s description of the splitting of humanity, where some will be left behind on a separate planet. I believe that even into Eternity, we will keep working to redeem them. But at this moment in time, it is frightening to see this huge chasm opening up already. There are so many fundamentally human moral issues that don’t seem to be able to be bridged, much less more cosmic ones. We must do our best to keep courage and work as best we can for long term reconciliation. I have written a “fairy tale” called “The Golden Soldier” which is really the story for our time, I believe. I can post a link to the PDF on Dropbox if anyone is interested.
“Many of our friends will remember the almost routine answer I gave to questions asked over and over again after my public lectures from the beginning of this century. The question, you may remember, was: “According to the statistics, the world population is increasing; how does this relate to the idea of repeated earth lives? The increase in population is rapid. How can one reconcile this with the spiritual scientific finding that these are always the same souls?” My answer always had to be: It does look as if the statisticians are right and the world population is increasing; but we have to take a longer view and consider much longer time-spans if we are to do justice to the question. And I would always go on to say that a time may well come, sooner than we may expect, when people discover to their horror that the population can also decrease.”
It is estimated that world population will increase to 9.5 billion by 2050. Where are these new souls coming from? Possibly, could it be from other planets wherein an involvement with Christ is now seen as important? Christ has invested His lot with the Earth until the end of Time.
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Tom, thank you for your thoughts – they help broaden my perspective. And I think it’s true that three-folding is more do-able in smaller groups. I know of a number of such groups – though most don’t have anthroposophical roots. But it’s not numbers, per se, I am thinking of. It’s that S. said (if I understood it) as we move on into Jupiter and so on, the window for being able to “get it”/learn/choose, etc. gets smaller and smaller until it’s gone. So, does this mean that for some – or even most(?) – it’s not do-able? And if so, isn’t this some sort of design flaw? Who made it this way, anyway?
Another thought regarding Michael’s mission. Didn’t Perlas link the possibility of failure of the Michaelic mission to the fact that Anthroposophy’s “daughter movements” tend to distance themselves from Anthroposophy while thinking they can retain the power/life/meaning of those practices? Aren’t we, as students of Rudolf Steiner, afraid to identify with our roots – so we end up failing to experience the very life of those roots? Do we (I) work at confronting the beasts we’ve made of our thinking-willing-feeling functions? Do we really believe we should be preparing to encounter the Lesser Guardian? It all seems to be a massive failure in courage and the exercise of free will. I remember, as a 7yo, trying to learn to swim by holding on to the side of the pool but pretending I wasn’t. Not only didn’t it work – it’s a great way to get hurt. And I’m still doing it!
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It suddenly dawned on me that the Uriel gesture is the same as the one captured in the Rachel Carson photo you also present.. So, I went looking for info on her affiliation with anthroposophy, and it seems to come from Marjorie Spock, who had a biodynamic farm at the time, c. 1962. And so, she seems to have given Rachel a great deal of information coming from Rudolf Steiner. These two articles are very interesting in giving the background:
I like this midsummer meditation very much for the fact that it allows these moments when a kind of natural clairvoyance arises in us humans while the earth sleeps. If Uriel looks down upon all these human errors that have occurred over millennia, then it is also possible to reason within the human fabric of life that the cause is human evolution itself. We have descended far below what was originally intended with a divine human evolution. So, why did this happen? Why did we ever agree to accepting a lower nature in favor of the incorruptible higher form which was our original destiny?
My reasoning tells me that it must have to do with the aims of the earth sphere of evolution, which is the fourth, or middle component of an overall sevenfold design, and wherein a kind of concrete resolution exists in the imagination. This is the danger. To think we are even close to the terminus of existence can be likened to those three denials previously discussed in which Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are denied in this day and age.
Yet, people today are denying any such thing as real, as we speak. This is the pox of materialism as it exists today. Technology is materialism’s last stand because it resides in the sub-earthly, and deposits there. Whatever can percolate to the surface of human life becomes our challenge to succeed, and attempt to overcome materialism in favor of the spirit, which is the only eternally real entity that truly exists.
Now, Steiner said that this perspective, or long-view, would not become generally recognized until the midpoint of the fifth cultural epoch, which can be calculated as 2493 AD. So, we have a few more years in order to figure it out. I like the fact that we are working on it.
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And Steve, please do not forget that Marjorie’s one-year-older brother Benjamin Spock became a famous pediatrician and wrote the Bible for Baby Boomer parents in 1946 called The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, a book I’m sure guided your own parents to raise you well and thus allow you to blossom into the fine multi-faceted and outstanding Anthroposophist you are today.
Benjamin Spock also wrote the introduction to the book, Killing Our Own, from 1982, concerning the effects of nuclear radiation on human lives since the atomic bombings of Japan in the summer of 1945.
Introduction by Dr. Benjamin Spock
“This is the frightening story of the damage that has already been done to our own people–to children even more than to adults–by the unlocking of the power of the atom. It investigates the testing of our nuclear weapons, the sloppy practices within the nuclear industry, and the problems with our atomic power plants. It is also about the future damage to be expected from mutation in our genes from radiation.
More than three and a half decades have now passed since the first atomic test at Alamogordo, New Mexico–July 16, 1945–and the subsequent detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then our own military has exploded more than 700 nuclear bombs on our own continental soil and in the Pacific. Many of the health effects are just now being felt.
It seems no accident that we are currently suffering from a national cancer epidemic, in which one of every five Americans dies of that dread disease. It would be plausible and prudent to assume that the radioactive fallout we’ve introduced into the global atmosphere, literally tens of tons of debris from bomb tests alone, is a significant factor in addition to industrial pollution and cigarette smoking. As early as the 1950s the American Linus Pauling and the Russian Andrei Sakharov–both Nobel prize winners–warned that literally millions of people would die worldwide because of these bomb tests.
There have been American “guinea pigs” who have amply confirmed these predictions. As this book documents for the first time, shortly after the blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, American soldiers were sent in to help clean up the rubble. They were not warned that there was a danger in drinking the contaminated water and breathing the radioactive dust. Many of these men felt the lethal effects of the bombs’ radiation almost immediately. Despite glib assurances from our government, they have suffered an extraordinary rate of rare cancers that could only have been caused by that radiation.”
Click to access KOO.pdf
About 20 years ago I read a book about a woman who could remember her previous incarnation in Ireland and I think it was made into a documentary… she also had visions of the future in which there is a massive drop in population. She says the earth is poisoned, land, rivers etc with small groups of people trying cultivate and grow food in various places around the globe. Sorry I can’t remember the name of the book…
Bridey Murphy; The Search for Bridey Murphy was both a bestseller, and a major motion picture made in 1956.
Sun of Christ,
So that good will be
From our hearts beget,
Through our heads
Will to achieve.”
Unless I becomes a We again (without losing individuality), there will be no healthy future on Earth!
Love to all (from Greece),
Alexandra, Eleni, Olga, Ilarion, Gerasimos, Vasilis, Dimitrios.
Thank you for this article of enormous depth and intensity. You emphasize with reference to Rudolf Steiner, if I understand well, that we should not try to resist the what people also call the 4th Industrial Revolution like the Ludites did. But should we not shape a kind of zoning other than according to political boundaries and defend parts of our habitat as organic eco- and socio-systems. Like you mention with pride Emerson College, Tablehurst and so. Where else could we find the sources for applying ethics to AI? So not isolating ourselves but creating zones of Peace as labs for organic counterforces. And don’t you realize by now that the Brexit disputes along historic lines of national sovereignty are part of the evil forces you dare to face with your usual courage?
One last shot at this topic. i have not read any of Kurzweil’s books, – AI is not a field I am particularly interested in, but also because I feel Kurzweil is a very clever snake oil salesman. There are plenty of critics of ‘the singularity’ idea and plenty of articles questioning the accuracy of Kurzweil’s predictions. Wikipedia provides a very good summary.
Harari is a different kettle of fish. I believe him to be a serious and honourable thinker. In his case I am not concerned with issues of plausibility but with forms of reasoning. He is essentially a historian. As soon as Harari begins to speak about the future he is extrapolating from what he believes he knows about the present and past. Extrapolation is a form of reasoning in which fundamental assumptions are always made, for example, that existing trends will continue and that current methods will remain applicable. We all use extrapolation in daily life, we could not live without it, but as soon as it is applied outside of limited and very well known contexts its weakness becomes apparent, as many venture capitalists have found to their cost.
Interestingly Steiner himself does not use extrapolation when speaking of the future. He constructs his narratives by referring to the intentions of mighty spiritual beings but does not say precisely how or when these will be realised. It is left up to us to recognise the signature of these beings in what actually occurs.
You may have seen a report in The Times of Thursday 11th July which reported a speech Harari gave to the Fast Company European Innovation Festival in Milan. The gist of what he said is that technology is becoming so intertwined with the human body that soon there will be no clear distinction. “In the future it is likely that the smartphone will not be separated from you at all. It may be embedded in your body or brain, constantly scanning your biometric data and your emotions”.
He also said that merging our minds and bodies with technology could give humankind the chance to branch out into the universe: “Natural selection was adapted to this flying rock. Not even the toughest bacteria on Earth can survive on Mars. Homo sapiens cannot colonise other planets or galaxies, but with inorganic bodies will not be limited to the unique conditions of Earth”.
Apart from the uninviting prospect of us becoming bionic human beings, it seems to me unfortunate that we are already looking forward to colonising other planets before we have even learnt how to look after the one we’ve got without making a catastrophic mess of it.
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Yes, neither do I find his extrapolations appetising. He is what I call a techno-fantasist. But he is not representing a giant Hardware/IT/AI company like Kurtzweil does.
Hello Tom, regarding the future, there is both cosmic necessity and human freedom. In regards to the what, this heads towards cosmic necessity. In regards to the how, this heads towards human freedom.
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I would like to expand on what I think Tom is highlighting about AI and extrapolation – and that Steiner does not use extrapolation in speaking of the future, but refers to intentions of mighty spiritual beings. S. also emphasizes how important it is to raise ourselves to the truth by using will power. And to be aware that our thoughts create astral beings. I interpret this to mean that, through misuse of mind, we ourselves send demons (phantoms?) out into the world that we then have to meet and deal with. Thoughts are not abstractions – they are active forces.
This article says: “…in this present age of the consciousness soul, Michael can only act if we help him do it.” I think the basic “help” we give is to excavate our denial systems and take responsibility for the demons we have given birth to.
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Indeed, thoughts are active forces, and Steiner once referred to the spatial plane between earth and moon as the place where the pure thought-world existed. In an earlier time, such as when the Greek philosophers existed, this realm was experienced as “it thinks in me”. Now, today, it becomes “I think in me”. You see the dichotomy of past and present, and how things evolve. Here is the one place where Steiner describes this situation, although I know that he spoke of it also concerning Aristotle somewhere.
“Today, when man reflects upon himself, he feels himself as the possessor of Thoughts, Feelings, and impulses of Will which lead to action. Above all, man ascribes to himself the ‘I think,’ the ‘I feel’ and the ‘I will.’
But in earlier personalities, the ‘I think’ was by no means yet accompanied by the same feeling with which we today would say ‘I think.’ This could only be said of the ‘I feel’ and the ‘I will.’ In effect, these human beings ascribed to their own person only their Feeling and their Willing. Out of an ancient background of culture, they rather lived in the sensation ‘It thinks in me’ than that they thought ‘I think.’ Doubtless they thought ‘I feel,’ ‘I will,’ but they did not think ‘I think’ in the same measure. On the other hand they said to themselves — and what I shall now describe was an absolutely real conception to them: — In the Sublunary Sphere, there live the thoughts. The thoughts are everywhere within this sphere, which is determined when we imagine the Earth at a certain point, and the Moon at another, followed by Mercury, Venus, etc. They not only conceived the Earth as a dense and rigid cosmic mass, but as a second thing belonging to it they conceived the Lunar Sphere, reaching up to the Moon. And as we say, ‘In the air in which we breathe is oxygen,’ so did these people say (it is only forgotten now that it ever was so): — ‘In the Ether which reaches up to the Moon, there are the thoughts.’ And as we say ‘We breathe-in the oxygen of the air,’ so did these people say — not ‘We breathe-in the thoughts’ — but ‘We perceive the thoughts, receive them into ourselves.’ They were conscious of the fact that they received the thoughts.”
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Last week, before I read this today, I was listening to the lecture series “Anthroposphy and the Inner life” (http://www.rudolfsteineraudio.com/anthroinnerlifecw234/anthroinnerlifecw234.html) and the thoughts passed through me of the stories of cryogenics and those that had their bodies frozen.
I had the following thought, “as anthroposophists, we know, thinking continues after we leave the physical body, what would those thoughts be of those that spent treasure on cryogenics, when reviewing their life in the tableau? What feelings would one have? Can you “feel” foolish in the life between death and rebirth?
Anyway, your excellent article was somewhat sychrosnistic by expanding on my musings on this.
Of course, cryogenics is probably the most crassest expression of human bodily materialism that we have today. But Rudolf Steiner went further when he wrote about how it was possible to enter the pure thought world in order to know the realities that make up human life.
This is a practice that is still largely unknown in today’s world of advancing technology wherein the belief exists that resurrection is a matter of achieving the “man-god complex”. Steiner’s praxis cited above is a very humble effort to only seek the real self in the all of eternity,
As such, it leaves these modern connotations to their own conclusions.
In considering the advent and presence of artificial intelligence today it seems doubly important, and especially for the anthroposophical movement, to review just how much Rudolf Steiner emphasized the Cosmic Intelligence of Michael as the antidote. Thus it can be found in his later Leading Thoughts amidst the Michael Mystery, ref. GA26. I don’t see where Nicanor Perlas lays enough here on obtaining cosmic intelligence vs. his idea of “collective human intelligence” (CHI). I think the path that Steiner outlines, as well as his earlier descriptions of a Michael Culture wherein a kind of new yoga involving the Will, ref. GA194, is of paramount consideration in today’s environment.
As well, Steiner often referred to the relationship between the present fifth cultural epoch and the third, which was the Egypto-Chaldean, and wherein materialism as we know it first arose. So, in our day and age, which obviously includes artificial intelligence, we experience on a higher level what first occurred in the previous third cultural epoch. Yet, it can also be shown that early in the third millennium, c. 2001, that the fifth cultural epoch began to point to the future. So, we are seeing the unfolding of the Apocalypse of St. John, which leads to the future seventh cultural epoch. The signposts are clear, and artificial intelligence is one of these signs.
What caught my attention back in 2001 first occurred on Ash Wednesday that year, i.e., February 28th, and wherein I began to forecast the future for the first time in my life. I began to receive indications and impressions of an impending event. Then, on September 11th, the disaster involving the World Trade Center Towers took place. Much of the nearly two decades of this new century concerns what occurred on that day, and how it is pointing to this not-so distant ending with the seventh cultural epoch. I suspect that all manner of artificial intelligence devices will be needed by then, and even now we see many of them already in use, such as unmanned surveillance drones, and direct-energy weapons arrayed in lower earth orbit.
So, maybe it is time to wink back at Uriel and give a suitably composing gesture from the human race that says, “yes, we are on top of this situation, and doing the best we can at this point in time.” As the old adage says, ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.’ The symbol of the horse as intelligence is an important consideration in the Apocalypse of St, John.
I had the good fortune to have Nicanor come to Boston (where I live) and to stay at my house. From my discussion with him, in his tour and his recent book, he wanted to focus on these next 30 years.
There was a discussion not long ago which presented Perlas and Ben-Aharon as being a kind of “new breed” in shaking out the GAS in terms of a new revelation of the spirit. Of course, this is occurring on this blog as we speak, and yet it goes back to an essay from Joel Kobran from 2000, and with sponsorship from Gary Lamb. Back then, they were concerned with both Perlas and Ben-Aharon, concerning the notion of a Global Civil Society (GCS), and I see that Perlas is still supporting the idea today in his book, “Humanity’s Last Stand”.
So, I simply wonder if we have really progressed from then until now in this assessment. I repost the significant article, from Kobran to Lamb, who is also sponsoring the Perlas lecture series this year. – S
Click to access Michaelic%20Millions.pdf
I wonder about what the anthroposophical movement can specifically do to avert these consequences of AI, AGI, and ASI, and maybe the most telling indication of this is the present advancement from 4G to 5G wireless technology. This blog of Jeremy’s has been a kind of sounding-board for these issues over the last few years. So, that makes all who care to listen and contribute, futurologists in the quest for sanity and safety. We only have this one earth experience. Thus, and here is my question to you: Does the General Anthroposophical Society in Dornach see these implications in which they certainly might need to speak out about more forcefully today? Their apparent conservatism has been a well-known fact since the death of Rudolf Steiner.
The what is sure to come. We will not stop artificial intelligence. But what we can do is find the counter balances. And we cannot try to hold the earth as it is. The earth itself is dying. And we must allow it to Die at the right time.
It is also worth referring to where Steiner said that in order for the anthroposophical movement to be firmly established that a second 21 year period needed to immediately follow the period from 1902-1923.
Well, of course, this second period never took place because it would have needed to traverse the time between 1923 and 1944. And we know that Rudolf Steiner died in 1925. His refounding of the General Anthroposophical Society in December 1923 was designed to instigate this next 21 years of direct development, with himself at the leadership helm until at least 1933. So, this has never occurred, and I suspect we need to consider what it means that it never took place. For example, it was only in 1944 that Marie Steiner approved the first publication of GA260, which is the memorandum of the Christmas Conference of 1923, although for some eighteen years, members were clamoring to hear its message.
So, the long and the short of it is that I don’t believe we have an officially recognized anthroposophical movement existing today. Nicanor Perlas’ book would encourage the movement to do something about what is occurring today, and yet, the GAS has long ditched the idea that an anthroposophical movement exists outside their purview of governance with regard to the discipline and phenomenon of Anthroposophy.
That is why we hear little about an anthroposophical movement working in the world. It is because the GAS is all about membership, and living the legacy of Rudolf Steiner’s great work. As such, it becomes a very conservative enterprise by today’s standards, and would easily exclude the works of Perlas, Ben-Aharon, and even Peter Selg, who could be nothing but more anthroposophical, yet he has a memory of Ita Wegman.
So, I think it is important to know that the present GAS has little to say and acknowledge concerning a wider Anthroposophical Movement, which outnumbers their ranks maybe 10 to 1. I suspect that is why they only acknowledge their own membership, and certain ‘friends of anthroposophy’. This is the real movement; these friends. Maybe one day it will be recognized. In any event, the times move on as we speak.
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Having recently stumbled into Uriel and even more recently, Steiner, this article and these comments are a beautiful discovery in my quest. The bible quote “resist not evil” comes to mind from some place that seems more wise than it did prior to seeing this article. Thanks!