While it is true that the leading mission of the Fifth root race is the development of Manas on the physical plane, it is equally true that the development of this thinking faculty proceeds hand in hand with the cultural evolution of religious forms on the same plane. The Atlantean Age was first and foremost an evolution of the diversity of human races thru their etheric bodytypes. In our Fifth Aryan root race, diversity of races falls into the background, while religious evolution proceeds in the foreground thru its septenary forms. Dr. Steiner was absolutely correct in disagreeing with the Good Madame H.P.Blavsatsky and her Theosophists, that religion, not racial diversity, continues thru the Fifth Age.
Hand in hand with religious evolution comes cultural evolution. This is why Dr. Steiner renamed the seven Theosophical epochs of the Fifth Age as cultural epochs and not as racial epochs. Each cultural age is commenced with a theophany, a religious revelation of the prophet and his book, the logos. Thus, for the Hindu revelation, we have the group revelation of the prophet thru the Seven Rishes and the books of the Vedas. For the next epoch, we have the revelation of Zarathustra and his book, the Avesta. During the third epoch, we have the revelation of Hermes and what survives of his 42 texts, such as the Emerald Tablet, the Poimandres, etc. Also during this third epoch we have the beginning of the monotheistic impulse of the Father, in the prophet Moses and his books, the Pentateuch. During the fourth epoch, we have the Christ as greatest of all prophets and the books written for Him, the New Testament, Acts and Letters of the Apostles and the Apocalypse, written by His initiate, St. John. The esoteric seeds of this greatest of all revelations lies both in the Angelic Hierarchies of Dionysius the Aeropagite and the so-called (by Joan of Arc) Book of God, which is the preserved etheric tableu of the life of Christ, which is seen by the various Saints and most recently by Sister Emmerich.
With the diaspora of Jewish monotheism, we also have in the fourth epoch the renewed impulse of the Father thru the prophet Mohammed and his book, the Koran. Although not discussed before in ISLAM (infra), Dr. Steiner feels very strongly that the "number of the beast" from the APOCALYPSE of St. John has risen in this culture of "666" in Islam. "The streaming of Arabism towards Europe, wherein Christianity became permeated by a teaching which could only make men fail to see their humanity within themselves; where the Father dogma is controverted into naturalism." For Steiner, this renewed monotheistic impulse of the "Father as natural laws" is directly in opposition to the Son dogma of Christianity and with it, of course, the Spirit dogma completing the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, this Islamic impulse is the direct inspiration of the Sun Demon, Sorath, working thru the elemental forces of Ahriman. The date of the 666 appears first in the Mohammed revelation, set off in the shape of a crescent, as an opposition to Christianity, then again in 1332 with the genocide of the Templar impulse and will appear for the third time at the end of our century in 1998. As the sun is the balance between the earth and moon, so is Christianity the balance between the earthly forces of Ahriman and the remaining over Old Moon forces of Lucifer. The Christ revelation is the middle of that sliding scale of earthly materialism on one side and extreme lunar spiritualism on the other side. For this reason, Islam will always be the religious and cultural antithesis of Christianity and Western culture.
The fourth epoch is that time when a new impulse arrives, in this case, in the two impulses of Christianity and Islam. The fifth-sixth-seventh epochs will be a repetition at a higher level of the impulses given during the first three epochs (as observed by Harrison) wherein the esoteric seeds will bear fruit within the exoteric plant of existing religious forms. There will be per-se no new religious forms arising but there will be renewed impulses within the existing forms.
For example, we see in the last century the new Christian impulse of the prophet Joseph Smith and his book of Mormon, revealed by the angel Moroni. Mormon cures many of the traditional ills of the Christian dogma, particulary those errors of the many Protestant faiths. Remember, the Protestants have neither a prophet nor a book, there main purpose being to print the book (Bible) of the Christian revelation which the Catholics, like the ancient Jewish priests, kept in secret. This book of Mormon restores the body-soul-spirit tricotomy that was eliminated at the Church Council of Constantinople in 869 AD. It also teaches of the pre-existence of the soul in spiritual worlds prior to incarnation at birth, which is a timely renewal of the Platonic doctrine over the Aristotelian contribution to Catholic dogma. In addition, it teaches of the individuality of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, separate in person, but united in purpose within the Trinity. These three truthful and important doctrines which were put aside for good reasons by the early Catholic church, are now being restored during the Age of Michael.
Because the religious revelation is inherently a cultural impulse also, it is appropriate to speak now and in the future of cultural evolution as the hallmark of the political evolution of nations. For the first time in university academics, we see this wisdom pour out in the recent book by Samuel P. Huntington called THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS AND THE REMAKING OF WORLD ORDER. Here he makes the case that the war of political systems and ideology is over and the wars of cultures has begun. The tectonic plates of the new world order are seven or eight cultures; the Western, Eastern Orthodox, Islamic, Latin America, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu and possibly the African.
These cultural groups are indeed close to our historical cultural epochs. The Eastern Orthodox is of course, our next sixth cultural epoch of the Slavic/Russian. For the reasons discussed (infra) in ISLAM, the Latin American is not a cultural force since these peoples are the remaining diaspora left over after their guiding archangel departed, during the last Atlantean Age. However, South America will indeed be a cultural force in the future seventh cultural epoch. China is not regarded as a religious culture since its Mongolian race is a renewal of the seventh sub-race of the last Atlantean Age, which by definition is pre-religious. They are a culture of ancestor worshippers not god worshipers. Guenon says that there is a Far-Eastern religious tradition that dates from the 6th century BC, this being the time of Lao Tzu and Confucius. Later, the tradition was separated into esoteric Taoism and exoteric Confucianism. It is forseable that the exoteric tradition could assume the Buddhist religion, as did Japan, and in this case China could be considered both a religious and cultural front. In any event, China is a huge cultural group which has a destiny with the first cultural group of the fifth Aryan root race, the Hindus.
Mr. Huntington's critics point out that there are still significant political conflicts that derive from other than tradition, culture and religion. For example, what should have been a culturally united Western Europe certainly did not prevent itself from slaughtering millions of persons during the last two World Wars. This is true, but the newly founded European Common Market should form a lasting cultural community, provided the German archangel does not still seek to become the Spirit of the Age.
Likewise, critics point to the war in Afghanistan which began as a war between Russian and Islamic cultures but has since now divided into a war within Islam itself. The Sunnis are fighting the Shiites, city Muslims are fighting the rural Muslims and at least four regional Islamic powers are fighting for control. Again, this is also true, but over time, these internal conflicts will work themselves out and there will be a unified victor.
This Afghan example points to a higher wisdom concerning the nature of the archangels who control national and cultural evolution. On the one side, the forces of Ahriman on the physical plane manifest division within any human/religious community and on the other side, angelic evolution proceeds from unity thru stages of diversity. Apart from Ahrimanic influences, diversity is the manifestation of forces reflecting down from the higher angelic hierarchies. The exoteric revelation given to the peoples can only become diversified and every religion reflects this principle.
Within Christianity there is the ternary division into Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants and we may now be witnessing a manifestation of a future septenary in the coming fourth impulse of the Mormons. Within Islam, the division between Sunni and Shiite has existed since the first generation of Mohammed and I am sure we will live to see a third division emerging as Islam increases its sphere of influence. It is the fastest growing religion on the planet. In contrast, Hinduism has been esoterically sevenfold since its inception. Within its ranks there is even a monotheism trend in the strict vedantic sects of Sankara in the 9th century, and the Islamic-Hindu trend of Kabir and Guru Nanak in the 15th century. All religions naturally diversify and the above Afgan criticism is no more than an observation of the normal evolution of archangelic ternary and septenary evolution.
When Huntington speaks of the present and future dominance of cultural and religious conflict, there is no better example than what recently happened in the college town of Lincoln, Nebraska. A 39 year old gulf war refugee married off his two age 13 and 14 daughters to two fellow Iraqi refugees, aged 28 and 34. The ceremony was performed in full Muslim tradition with cleric, family and friends. When one of the young wives ran off to a shelter, the city cops came in and put the two wives in foster homes. Then, the police arrested five adults and charges are pending for crimes ranging from child abuse to rape. The two husbands who consumated their marriages are facing rape charges and 50 years in prison. Now, that is religious and cultural conflict the critics should talk about.
Another aspect to consider is what is the relationship between this national/state entity impulse and religion? As we said before, the purpose of the 5th Aryan Age is two fold: first the development of religion and second the descent of manas into the physical plane. the descent of manas entails the rise of the state in opposition to the religious impulse.
In the Atlantean age, there was no need for religion because each person lived directly in the spiritual world. During sleep, one could directly experience the hierarchies of the spiritual world and during the day consciousness, one was directed by the impulses that were received during the night. For this reason, the Atlantean age was an age not of religion but of ancestor worship. This is clearly seen anthropologically in the remnants of the Atlantean Age, for example in the Chinese and Polynesian cultures. With the descent of manas during the 5th Aryan Age, mankind thru its intellect, drew away from the direct experience of the spiritual worlds and religion became necessary for mankind to maintain a direct link with the spiritual worlds. The religious impulses from the book and the prophets of the worlds great religions are great gifts from the gods to humanity. As i said before, the decline of atavistic clairvoyance and the rise of the cognative faculty of mind are inversly porportional, as is also the case of the detachment from the 4 group souls and the rise of the individual ego.
The evolution of the nation/state as organizing principle of cultures runs hand in hand with the descent of manas and counter to the principle of religion as organizing principle of cultures. As recent book review of a Marcel Gauchet's book THE DISENCHANTMENT OF THE WORLD says that "sometime around 3000 BC, somewhere in Mesopotamia and Eqypt, a parting of the ways took place, with a social ordering that was seen as originating in individual human wills and individual human wills perceived as themselves existing prior to the social bond (of religion) that holds them together." This impulse in Eqypt came from the building of the pyramids which was the first time society was organized for a great purpose.
It is no coincidence that also around 3000 BC Dr. Steiner says that mankind suffered an incarnation of Lucifer. Although the place of this incarnation was in the far east, the impulse was quickly transplanted into the western Egyptian/Summerian area as the first experiment in the organizating principle of nation/state. (a similar experiment also took place in the 20th century with the transplanted impulse of communism in Russia). The emergence of the nation/state is a luciferic impulse of ordering individual human wills and the building of the pyramids was the first rebellion against the principle of religion as ordering individual human wills. These impulses are again inversly porportional in that great bell curve of human evolution during the Aryan Age. The other pole of Monotheism as such is also an impulse towards the totalitarian nation/state.
After long cycles of diversity of religious manifestation, what brings about a unity of religions ?
It is as Frithjof Schuon observed, the esoteric unity of all religious revelation that binds people together in eternal truths. Looking as he does at all religions in the shape of a pyramid with god at the apex, at the higher esoteric level all religions converge towards the apex and below at the exoteric level, all diverge. What leads back to unity is the gradual revelation of universal truths from the esoteric core or seed that lies behind every religious theophany. For Christianity, Spiritual Science and Anthroposophy reveal the core of religious truths that will lead all Christians to a common ground for only in the universality of truth is there unnamimity. In Islam, we now see the esoteric core being pealed back thru the works of Henry Corbin and S.H. Nasr.
Esoterism is the path of truth that leads to religious unity. "For the exoteric, God is primarily loved, for the esoteric, He is primarily known." This is why Dr. Steiner says, "Christianity has begun as a religion, for humanity (in our Aryan Age) was founded on religion. Yet religion must be replaced by wisdom, by knowledge. In so far as religion rests upon faith and is not inflamed with the fire of knowledge, it is something that must be replaced in the course of humanity's progress." This replacement process will slowly occur because the goal of the Aryan fifth Age is both: (1) the descent of Manas and (2) the septenary evolution of religious forms, together. Manas gives knowledge to the exoteric religious experience. "From religion, mankind evolves to wisdom glowed through by love."
If humanity evolves to achieve the final esoteric unity of religions, why will Christianity become the universal final solution for all believers ? It is because of the appearance of Christ in the etheric beginning in year 1933.
As Schuon correctly observes, the process which causes separation in the kingdoms of nature is reversed for the kingdom of mankind. He says "That which unites the being and more particulary the realized being to the Divine Principle, is the intellect; that which separates the world-or any microcosm-from the Principle is existance...the metaphysic proceeds exclusively from the intellect...the universality of esoterism is the same thing as the universality of metaphysic and is itself of a universal order, and not, like reason, of an individual order." This universal order of intelligence to which Schuon refers is the same Cosmic Intelligence of which the Islamic tradition is fully aware thru the writings of Avicenna and Averroes. In the Western tradition, Steiner refers to this as the descent of Manas on the physical plane during our Aryan Age which began in 869 AD. It represents the sacrifice of the body of an angelic being spread over humanity and as part of an universal order, its benefits will be available to everyone. In the future, Manas will become organic and transmitted thru heredity in the same way that the ego, astral body, etheric body and physical body are now given to mankind. When in the past, one had to raise his consciousness to the level of the Cosmic Intelligence to receive the esoteric revelation, in the future this will be commonplace. However, therein lies the danger of the unpurified astral body which receives the Manas revelation. The purpose of the Christ revelation was to insure this occurs in a being infused with love.
With the appearance of Christ in the etheric, those persons who attain the esoteric revelation, either now consciously thru their personal effort or, in the future, unconsciously thru the descent of Manas, will find in the etheric not the Buddha, the Confucius, nor the avatar, nor the Maitreya Bodhisattva, but the Christ being Himself, in all His Divine splendor. For persons of all different religious persuasions, the experience will be the same, the perception of the Christ being. This universal experience will finally unite persons around the world in a common religious experience. Certainly, other persons will perceive other various spiritual beings of different angelic orders other than the Christ, but for these persons, the experience will not be universal, it will be as individual as is the different beings experienced. Only with the experience of the Christ being will the religious experience be universal.
This is also the reason that the Christ being returned to the etheric plane and not to the physical plane as incorrectly predicted by those evangelists of the second coming. Had Christ returned in a human body to the physical plane, the same problems would occur as did when He incarnated in Judea. Because of the "diversity of Existence", as Schuon observes, some people would accept Him and some would not. The return to the physical plane could not accomplish a universal experience common to all humanity for those who seek the religious truths.
In the end, the varieties of all religious experience will be reduced to the single experience of the Christ in the etheric. Of course, to cement this man-God experience, Christ will again appear in the future sixth and seventh cultural epochs within the astral and devachanic planes.