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Chapter IV. The Evolution of the World and Man


Spirit that is really the guiding and ruling principle. It is obvious that the mode of thought which restricts itself to the processes of physical sense—and to what reason is able to infer from them—is incapable of expressing an opinion about the spiritual element of which we are speaking. Let us assume that a being might exist to whose senses ice would be perceptible, but not the finer condition of water, from which ice is detached by refrigeration. For such a being, water would be non-existent, and could become visible only when parts of it had been transformed into ice. In the same way, the spiritual element behind earthly processes remains hidden from one who only admits the existence of what is perceptible to his physical senses. And if, from the physical facts which he now perceives, he draws correct conclusions about earlier conditions of the earth-planet, he can penetrate only as far as that point in evolution at which the previous spiritual element was partially condensed into material substance. Such a method of observation no more discovers the spirit previously existing, than it perceives the spirit which even now rules unseen behind the world of matter. Not until we come to the last chapters of this work can we deal with those methods by which man acquires the faculty of looking back, by means of occult perception, upon those earlier conditions of the earth which are now under discussion. For the present we shall merely intimate that the facts concerning the primeval past have not passed beyond the reach of occult research. If a being comes into corporeal existence his material part perishes after physical death. But the spiritual forces, which from out their own depth gave existence to the body, do not “disappear in this way.” They leave their traces, their exact images behind them impressed upon the spiritual ground-work of the world. Any one who is able to raise his perceptive faculty through the visible to the invisible world, attains at length a level on which he may see before him what may be compared to a vast spiritual panorama, in which are recorded all the past events