Note: In 2001 Sergei Prokofieff became a member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society.
The Being Of The Internet
Sub-Nature has to be understood as such.
– Rudolf Steiner, March 1925
The Being of the Internet is esoterically best understood on the basis of Rudolf Steiner’s Dornach lecture of May 13, 1921.1 In this lecture Steiner described how the further development of today’s abstract intellect will slowly produce a kind of new nature kingdom. This intellect which is merely of a “shadowlike character” can only function “automatically” and can only comprehend the material as such, and never the etheric and to an even lesser degree the soul world or spirit world. This ghostly nature kingdom will be formed between the mineral and the plant kingdoms and come alive following the reunion of the moon with the earth in the Seventh to Eighth Millennium.
The Imagination of the Spider Web
It is frightening how poignantly Steiner described this spirit world in comparison with the world situation of today:
And from the earth will well up terrible creations of beings who in their character stand between the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom as automative beings with super-natural intellect, an immense intellect. When this development takes hold, the earth will be covered, as with a web, a web of terrible spiders, spiders of enormous wisdom, which however, in their organization don’t even reach the plant status. Terrible spiders which will interlock with each other, which will imitate in their movements all that which humanity has thought of with their shadowlike intellect that was not inspired by a new imagination, through that which is to come through Spiritual Science. All man’s thoughts of this kind, which are unreal, will come alive. The earth will be covered ... with terrible mineral-plant-like spiders, which will link up with empathy but evil intention. And man ... will have to unite with these terrible mineralplant-like spider creatures.2
These spider creatures will be of a distinct ahrimanic character. When one reads these prophetic words of the spiritual scientist today, in an era of world- wide connections via computer and the Internet, one may be disheartened to find how quickly this prophecy has become a reality on earth. It is as if Steiner, with his spiritual gaze, described today’s Internet from beyond the threshold, categorically warning humanity that in a not too distant future, with the unification of moon and earth, this whole Internet-computer-web, and in fact everything connected with the development of the artificial intellect, will suddenly come alive and humans “will have to unit his life with these terrible mineral-plant-like spider creatures.” If one considers how many people, in particular young people, have become computer addicted and spend most of their time in front of the screen without sufficient will to get away from it, then one can imagine how endlessly greater the dependence on this spider kingdom will be if in the future this whole net comes alive. Mankind will hardly have a chance to disconnect from it. The frightening picture of an insect caught in the net of a huge and ravenous spider, trying in vain to free itself, is an appropriate picture of this future for mankind. And it will be a very special task of white magic to free such people from their bond to these beings.
Created with Intent
In this lecture Steiner also pointed to the fact that there are certain occult circles which are well aware of this approaching danger and who are intent on advancing it by deliberately keeping this secret.
“There are those [human beings] who are quite consciously allies of the intention to en-web human existence.”3
If one takes Steiner’s words seriously, there can be no doubt that these occult circles, which know of the above mentioned secrets and yet push mankind in this forlorn direction, have also found a suitable name for the internet, the most appropriate instrument to achieve this future, and spread it like a secret code: www = world wide web.
In my opinion these occult circles belong to those secret brotherhoods of the English-speaking West about whose occult-political endeavors Steiner advised us in his lectures during World War I.4 That does not mean however, that those who have given the Internet its name themselves belong to these occult circles. They usually are more or less figures outside who are being used and do not know about it. This begs the question whether some of the other labels in the world have arisen from the same source e.g. the hotel chain in Germany called “Sorat” (the largest hotel and in the center of Berlin), and the satellite aerials which in the center of the dish display in big red letter the name “SatAn,” and the latest computer system in which one finds demonic pictures and words such as the Internet browser “Mozilla” which portrays the head of a red dragon, and so forth.5 At the end of the lecture Steiner reiterated, as if in anticipation of criticisms from some anthroposophists: “Mankind may close its eyes to such things; they may say: Well, this is reading too much into it. But the signs are really there and the signs should be understood by humanity.”6 And to such signs, which can be seen clearly today and must be understood, in particular by anthroposophists, also belongs the following.
The Number of the Beast
According to the occult teachings of the Kabala all Hebrew letters have a numeric equivalent. Steiner spoke about this in detail in his cycle on the Apocalypse concerning the revelation of the name of the sun demon Sorat.7 On this occasion Steiner pointed out that the numeric equivalent of the letter W (Hebrew waw) is 6, the number 6. It follows that the occult meaning of “www” is “666,” the number of the beast of which the apocalypse says: “Here wisdom itself speaks. Whoever has the ability to think it, let him seek the meaning of the number of the beast. It is the number of Man. And its number is six hundred and sixty-six.”8 The indication of the “number of Man” means that the beast, which is not of human nature, will use something coming from man himself for its attacks against humanity. In my opinion the Internet and everything connected to artificial intelligence are part of this. In conclusion, the aims of the above mentioned occult circles not only relate to the spiritual en-webbing of humanity but ultimately to the endeavor to put the whole undertaking into the service of Sorat. Because the latter is the prime opponent of the Ego-principle within mankind, the en-webbing of humanity through the artificial intelligence that has come alive will lead ultimately to the loss of the Ego.
Connecting to Sub-Nature
It is clear to see that today’s digital industry is being driven exactly in this direction. At present chips are produced as the basis for computers in which predominantly electricity is used as the information carrier or store. However, the next generation of chips is already at the door, chips which use not only electricity but also light as a transmitter. This means that a chip of the same size can contain a thousandfold more information. And this is not by far the pinnacle of development in this field, as there are already large companies in the West which are experimenting with chips that will no longer be based on light but on microbiological elements as information carriers. These new “biological chips” will again increase the capacity for information they can hold compared to “light chips” a thousandfold. Since the biochips are infiltrated with electricity, they are united with sub-nature from the start. Thus the whole development undoubtedly moves closer towards Steiner’s imagination of an earth covered and later enlivened by a spider web.
Something similar, although in a different format, happens with a compact disc (CD), digital versatile disc (DVD), or an external hard drive. To understand what this actually means, one has to remember that when the cosmic intelligence guarded by Michael descended from the sun to the earth in order to become human intelligence there,9 it went through a massive process of compression or contraction. This intelligence, if not seized by Ahriman in the human being, only becomes “naturally” free after death during the expansion of the ether body in the cosmos, i.e., during the process which forms the polarity to its compression. Only a modern schooling path which has the development of living thought as its root can bring about this expansion into the spiritual world already during earthly life and hence ensure a new, conscious connection of mankind with the cosmos and there with Michael himself. The ahrimanic powers serving Sorat work in opposition to this, especially after 1998 (3 x 666).10 Ahriman—making use of the forces of sub-nature—wants to penetrate the Michaelic intelligence with the artificial intelligence created by him, which includes the digitization of thought. For him this is one of the ways in which he can gain power of earthly intelligence. This started with the fixation of human thoughts through the process of printing and continues now through digitization.
“What does Ahriman intend to gain from Michael through print?” He wants—and you can see that appear everywhere today—to conquer intelligence, that conquest of intelligence which is particularly easy to attain, where conditions are favorable.”11 And Ahriman finds such favorable conditions especially in the world of artificial intelligence and digital industry.
Thus it is possible to grasp with both hands the process of “compression” of anthroposophical material in an ahrimanic sense. The entire collection of Steiner’s works today encompasses nearly 350 volumes; digitally collated on CD-ROM, this still means a fair number of CDs. With the use of the latest DVD technology, all 350 volumes can be compressed onto two or three disks. On a hard disk drive there will be sufficient space left for the artistic legacy. If one has some feeling for a spiritual perspective, one can experience a physical pain simply by thinking about this. At the same time this incredible fixation and compression of spiritual material is achieved by dragging the CD/DVD and computer industry even further into the subnature—in contrast to print media which already bears Ahriman’s imprint, but because of the way it was originally discovered and to a certain degree it is still connected to the natural world through its mechanical process. There, however, the ahrimanic forces possess extraordinary powers with which they will devise even bigger technical wonders in future than is the case so far.
One must not fall prey to the illusion that it is possible to “redeem” the Internet or CD/DVD in the way Steiner indicated for printing. In the realm of sub-nature the obstacles are far greater. One of the reasons for this is the main condition Steiner gives for the redemption of print: “We have to redeem print through reverent feeling for what lives in Michaelic wisdom.”12 In contrast the Internet or DVD puts everything on the level of purely abstract information that in addition comes in “bytes” (this brings up the picture of Osiris cut into pieces by Set) and thus is spread amongst mankind in a way towards which no “reverent feeling” is possible.
The Delusion of the Duad
If one looks behind the being of the computer on this basis, i.e., to the way information is processed and stored, then one discovers that everything is built on the duad which can endlessly and quantitatively be multiplied through repetition and differing compositions. Steiner called this fundamental principle, which forms the basis for computers worldwide the “delusion of the duad.”13 It also connects directly to that force within humanity that in our time fights most ardently against the Michaelic impulse, which is always linked to the number “three.” “It is contained in this new consciousness of mankind the delusion of the duad and it veils the truth of the number three.”14 And then Steiner described how everything that arises out of Michaelic inspiration is always threefold: The Threefold Social Order, the three figures in the Representative of Man, the rhythm of the Foundation Stone Meditation, and so forth. Here the Anthroposophical Society and in particular the School of Spiritual Science have a special task: to consciously oppose the ahrimanic principle of the duad, which has spread worldwide—in particular through computers—with the threefold Michaelic principle as the most important foundation stone for a future spiritual culture and to implement it in all areas of human life and activities.
In the same lecture Steiner spoke further about the duad: “Everything that is active in this illusory conception is the creation of the ahrimanic influence, of that influence which in the future will concentrate in the incarnation of Ahriman of which I have already spoken.”15 It follows that the whole computer and Internet industry is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman, or at the least to allow his earthly task to run as smoothly as possible for him. The net of ahrimanic spider beings developing out of the internet around the earth stands right from the beginning in a direct relationship to Ahriman appearing in a physical body and will serve him particularly effectively and offer him extremely favorable potential to work.
Already today one can find on the Internet the most awful and defamatory attacks on Steiner, anthroposophy, Waldorf schools and other institutions connected with anthroposophy. This widespread effect far exceeds that of print. There is no doubt that this will increase in the future, particularly with the posting of the collective works on the Internet and DVD because then all alleged “vulnerable passages” in the collective works will be easily and quickly accessible.
Management of the Computer
What has been said does not mean, however, that one should therefore refrain from using a computer or the Internet. They belong to our civilization and at the same time to the greatest ahrimanic provocations which mankind faces and will have to face increasingly in the future. What is crucial however, as with many similar challenges, which we are faced with in today’s civilization, is whether the human being controls the computer and the Internet or they the human being. The latter is the easier when we are inclined not to take what Steiner has communicated seriously, or worse ignore it and because of this not notice what in reality is happening. If the human being wants to maintain his autonomy/authority over the world of the computer, then he has to differentiate between what objectively offers pure technical aid for his work and where he oversteps the mark behind which, at first unnoticeable, the ahrimanic seduction will start to take control. In the latter case, without being aware of it, the human being will increasingly become an instrument for alien purposes and slowly slide into the sub-nature himself.16
Reading in the Astral Light
In his lecture of January 13, 1924, Steiner pointed to the most important ahrimanic impulses at that time: everything connected to heredity, all forms of nationalism, mechanical thinking in words and finally our train of writing.17 The latter in particular can effectively apprehend the human being’s ascension to reading in the astral light and through this come close to Michael. Therefore, Steiner mentioned that in certain Rosicrucian schools learning to write was prohibited until the fourteenth or fifteenth year of age so that the form, the mechanism that comes to expression in writing, did not enter the human organism. For the same reason letters are taught in Waldorf schools first through drawing and then writing.
Print with its ahrimanic tendencies was inspired through the subterranean “ahrimanic counter/school” of Michael. “Although a spiritual power has to be recognized in the art of printing, it is the spiritual power which Ahriman set opposite Michael.”18 This ahrimanic tendency finds its continuation, if not indeed its culmination, in today’s digital forms of print in order to reach its aim even more effectively: to cut man off from his ability to read in the astral light and thereby encounter Michael in the spiritual world.
The New Imaginations
That the Internet not only stands in polarity to the sphere of Michael in the spiritual world but that it is its ahrimanic counterpart can be seen in the way Steiner described the being of cosmic intelligence: “Intelligence forms the mutual law of conduct amongst the higher hierarchies. What they do and how they interact, how they relate to one another, that is cosmic intelligence.”19 The Internet increasingly takes on a similar function among human beings. Here the attempt is made in purely ahrimanic form to create a worldwide web that connects as many people as possible but in a way that mankind becomes increasingly separated from the cosmos and the hierarchies and thus is bound up in an ahrimanic spider web. The Michaelic intelligence came to earth from the spiritual world in order for man to achieve freedom through insight. The above-mentioned addiction to the computer however, leads to the exact opposite.
Through the continued separation of man from the spiritual world, the “human intellect will become increasingly shadowy.”20 Precisely with the introduction of the computer worldwide this process has been enhanced. To counteract this one has to include the “new imaginations” of Spiritual Science into today’s “shadowy concepts and intellectual ideas.”21 However, through imprinting their contents onto DVD, the exact opposite is achieved. As purely intellectual “information” on the World Wide Web, the living imaginations of anthroposophy are being put into an occult prison.
The Exceptionality of the Class Texts
The publication of the class texts (as well as the ritual of other esoteric texts by Steiner) on the Internet can be experienced as particularly tragic. Especially in this respect Steiner differentiated between the contents of the class and his other occult lectures. The latter are given to mankind as thoughts and ideas, and appear therefore right from the beginning as if protected by a sheath. (Thus was Steiner able to agree to general publication after the Christmas Conference.)
Concerning the contents of the class, it is a different matter. Here we have a substance, which comes directly from Michael himself (out of the Michael-School) and therefore contains imaginations in their original form, which demand a totally different handling. Steiner pointed to this character of the class contents as follows: “Therefore it will generally have to be thus, that man gets to know the spiritual world first of all in the form of ideas. This is the way Spiritual Science will be cultivated within the General Anthroposophical Society. However, there will be those who wish to go a step further in the descriptions of the spiritual world, from ideas to expressions which themselves are received from the spiritual world. ... It will be for them that the three classes of the ‘school’ will be available. There the work will achieve an ever-increasing degree of esotericism. The ‘school’ will lead the participant into regions of the spiritual world which cannot be revealed through ideas. Here the necessity will arise to find expressions for imagination, inspiration and intuition.”22 Hence the way we treat the class contents has to differ fundamentally from the way we treat Steiner’s general lecture contents. He demanded quite clearly a different relationship to the contents of the class than one has to the publication of this lectures.
Dangers and Tasks
During a private conversation Steiner once pointed towards the greatest future danger of anthroposophy—its increasingly intellectualization through which it will be handed to Ahriman, the Master of Death. The posting of Steiner’s complete works on the Internet enhances this danger and with it takes a further step towards the intellectualization and cutting up of anthroposophy.
This event has to be countered with an increased and conscious intensification of esoteric work within the School of Spiritual Science as well as meticulous and free from intellectualization study of Steiner’s texts. He himself expected this way of working with the texts—not with abstract and increasingly shadowlike intellect, but with the “hearts” which, in the Michaelic sense “start to have thoughts”23 and are therefore enabled to reach real imaginations. Only in this way will a place be created within the human being and for future mankind where anthroposophical wisdom is protected from Sorat and the ahrimanic powers serving him. Such care for anthroposophy must be a primary task for all groups within the Anthroposophical Society.
1. Steiner, Rudolf. Perspective on Humanity’s Development (out of print).
4. For example, Rudolf Steiner’s Karma of Untruthfulness, Vol. 1, New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 2001.
5. The Bible, New Testament, The Apocolypse of St. John, Chapter 12.3.
6. Op. cit., Steiner. Perspective.
7. Steiner, Rudolf. The Apocolypse of St. John, New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 1993.
8. Op. cit., The Bible, Chapters 13 and 18.
9. Steiner, Rudolf. Karmic Relationships VI, lecture of July 19, 1924, New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 1999.
10. Concerning the special relationship of Sorat to the ahrimanic spirits, see Rudolf Steiner’s Three Streams of Evolution of Mankind, see http://www.kheper.net/topics/Anthroposophy/Steiner-3streams. htm.
11. See above.
12. See above.
13. Steiner, Rudolf. The Mission of the Archangel Michael, the Revelation of the Secrets of Man’s Being (GA 194), lecture held on November 14, 1919, New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 1998.
16. Steiner, Rudolf. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts (GA 26) “From Nature to Sub-Nature,” New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 1998.
17. Steiner, Rudolf. Mysterien des Mittelalters, Rosenkreuzertim und modernes Einweihungsprinzip (GA 233a).
18. Op. cit., Steiner. Karmic Relationships VI.
19. Steiner, Rudolf. Karmic Relationships III, lecture of August 8, 1924, New York: Anthroposophic Press (SteinerBooks), 2002.
20. Op. cit., Steiner. Perspective.
22. Steiner, Rudolf. The Constitution of the General Anthroposhical Society and the School of Spiritual Science (GA 260a), lecture of January 20, 1924. 23. Op. cit., Steiner. Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts.