What is it we are on earth for? 

By Margarete van den Brink

Translated by Amke Postma

Why do we live on earth? What is the position of the human being in the whole of creation? In every period of human history these questions have been asked time and again.

What is Esoteric Christianity telling us with regard to these questions?

In the book Genesis from the Bible we learn that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He also created the light, the water, the fire, and nature with all her plants, trees and animals in all their diversities. At last, it says, he created the human being.

However, there was something special about the human being. Genesis mentions that God created him in his own image and likeness. By doing so mankind was given a unique position. As a creature in which the divine expresses itself, he became the crown of creation.

The Forgotten Purpose

The deeper meaning of this fact has been largely lost. That is because over time, especially in the twentieth century, earthly, materialistic thinking gradually took over in science and religion. This earthbound thinking recognizes only the outer, physical reality: only what is measurable is truth. All the other: the non-physical, the spiritual side, is (religious) fantasy, does not exist, or can to a certain extent be reduced to physical elements. This materializing of the thinking, of the mind, led to the situation that most of the scientists and theologians in our time ignore and deny everything that has to do with the spirit or spiritual matters.

This shift in the thinking had far-reaching consequences for the way we nowadays think about the human being and his purpose on earth.

Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul describes the complete makeup of a human in three different words: spirit and soul and body. 1). In today's culture, in religion and in science, the spiritual element can hardly be found anymore. Consequently, the actual and deeper meaning of human life got lost. The human being became ‘nothing more than a particle in the universe' and of no importance.

The human being, an animal?

Also the perception of the human soul changed drastically due to this change in focus. Scientists today suggest that the human soul together with man's personality is physical by nature. Both, soul and personality, belong to the physical body – with the accent on the brain. This means that when the physical body dies, the soul and the personality also die. In other words: all that was, dissipates and nothing remains.

The scientists took it even one step further. Instead of focusing on man's special position, based on the fact that he is the carrier of God's image, they gradually considered him not to be a species in himself, but animal-like. This led to the present assumption that human beings are part of the animal world. Thus science degraded him to the world below that of the world of the humans.

This is no surprise, as the unique preposition that distinguishes man from animals, namely the image of God and the spirit of God he is carrying within him, is obviously denied.

Free or unfree

Why is it so important to consider and reflect on these concepts emerging from the present scientific world? Because they not only determine the way we look at people and the perceptions we have of mankind, but they also affect the answer to the question whether the human being is free or not free. And if he is unfree, will he be able to become free?

Contemporary science considers humans to be in essence unfree and they will always be. That is because he is completely driven, controlled and governed by the animal-like forces from his physical body and his physical constitution: his survival instincts and genetic goal. His DNA dictates and determines who he is and what will happen with him during his life. Nothing can change that. That is why the human being is unfree.

Guards of ancient knowledge

Fortunately, to this very day, there are spiritual movements that guard the ancient knowledge and truths about the spiritual aspects of man's origin and destination. These spiritual movements, that today can be found under the common denominator ‘Esoteric Christianity' or ‘the esoteric tradition', preserved insights and wisdoms from Apostle Paul's time and before. Spiritual thinkers and clairvoyants like theosophist Helena Blavatsky, Jakob Lorber and Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, translated the ancient wisdom in a new way in speech and writing, and developed it further.

Especially Jacob Lorber and Rudolf Steiner related these new views to Christianity. Their insights and spiritual views offered new interpretations of texts in the Bible. Thus they revealed the much deeper, esoteric meanings hidden in the bible words.

What is the purpose of creation according to the esoteric tradition?

Like the Bible these esoteric meanings call the human being up to fully develop this inner image of God in his own unique way.

In Esoteric Christianity this inner image of God is called ‘the spiritual inner human being', or the ‘spiritual Self', the ‘higher Self', or the ‘higher I'.

This spiritual Self should not be considered to be God itself, but it is part of God or the divine. In the same way as a drop of water of the ocean is not the ocean itself, but a part of the ocean. 2)

The higher spiritual human being – that lives in every human being on earth – resides in the depths of the soul. Unconscious for the daily, ordinary, consciousness.

The aim of our human development is to fully unfold this inner spiritual core or Self in the course of the human evolution.

In other words: as God created man according to his own image, man's purpose is to gradually act out of his own insights and morality. And by doing so learns to act and create out of this deeper Self and out of his own free will.

How can we achieve this?

By coming back to an earthly life time and again in new incarnations to further work on the completion of oneself. All that work, all those efforts, will gradually lead to the birth of the divine spirit that lives in the person. Through that also the creative powers that go with this, will emerge.

In connection to this the Apostle Paul speaks in the Bible about ‘the manifestation of the sons of God' 3). The ‘sons of God' are the people who give rise to the higher Self inside themselves 4).

As free, self-conscious creative spirits, they know what they do. Out of an all-embracing consciousness they will contribute to the great redemption of mankind in the service of God.

That means: liberating humanity and the earth from the grip of matter and materialism and helping them to transform to higher levels of spiritual consciousness and existence.

A grand future for mankind

From this point of view mankind has a grand future in which the aspect of freedom, higher consciousness and morality plays an essential role. A future that will reveal itself in all its splendor. For it is true what John the Evangelist mentions in the Bible: ‘what we shall be has not yet been revealed.' 5). One day it will become clear how infinitely the divine world invested in the evolution of mankind and how high their expectations are with regard to the development of the human being.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The Apostle Paul prays: ‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you through and through, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless'.
  2. As clarified in The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity, by Rudolf Steiner, De published by Anthroposophic Press. Inc., 1991. Meister Eckhart, the medieval mystic, meant the same when he said: ‘There is a power in the soul that touches neither time nor flesh. It flows out of the spirit and remains in the spirit, and is totally and utterly spiritual.' From: Passion for creation. The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, by Matthew Fox, 2000.
  3. Romans 8:19: 'For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God'.
  4. Romans 8:14: ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God'.
  5. 1 John 3:2.


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