Good and Evil in our Times 

Margarete van den Brink

Translation: Nesta Carsten

Humanity lives in the time of the consciousness soul, and therefore we develop our self-awareness in increasing measure. This entails that we increasingly take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. For what we radiate into our environment. How can we understand that?

The development of the soul

In the course of our human development, creative, spiritual beings developed the human soul with its three different characteristics. First, they brought forth the sentient soul. In this part of our soul, we can observe and experience things in and around us with our emotions.

Then came the intellectual or mind soul. It afforded us the power to produce clear and logical thinking once we undertake the development of this aspect of our soul.

The development of the third and final part of the soul, the consciousness soul, began at the beginning of the Early Modern Period, around 1500. With this third part, the creative, spiritual beings rounded off the evolutionary development of the soul.

As modern humans, we nowadays have a physical constitution consisting of a physical body, an etheric body, and an astral body. And additionally, we have a soul-instrument that consists of a sentient soul, an intellectual or mind soul and a consciousness soul. In each of these facets of our soul, we live with our I, the centre of our personality, in a specific way.

Spiritual awareness

With the consciousness soul, we received a gift from the spiritual world with which we can delve into a deeper level of our soul, than was the case with only the sentient soul and intellectual or mind soul. The consciousness soul makes it possible to understand – to become aware – on a deeper level than only the sense perceptions and the intellect, what we perceive, experience, and think. We become able to act out of this more in-depth, higher consciousness.

This applies both to understanding what comes at us from the outside and what originates from within us.

The deeper awareness, the insight, is possible because the consciousness soul opens to the world of the spirit. And with it to our inner spiritual selves. Our spiritual being lives as it were, within the consciousness soul. It unites with it.1)

The spiritual world is a world of truth; it is veritable and consists of beauty, purity, justice, goodness, and love. Because our spiritual self is part of the spiritual world, these assets, and qualities also live in our spiritual selves. And therefore also in our consciousness soul and our I. There they want to be recognised and developed. That this is the case, we know by the fact that we keep asking ourselves in all the events in and around us: Is that true? Is it wrong? How does that work? How can I understand it?

Or, on a specific issue, how do I deal with it in the right way? What will the right decision be? Questions that encourage us to think, reflect, and become more deeply aware. This happens because, as said, these questions have their origin in our spiritual selves. The higher self as it were, pulls us via our I to a new, higher level of consciousness. From out of that awakened awareness, we learn to act accordingly.

Bill Cody

It is fortunate that there are people who are living examples to us of this new spiritual consciousness.

Let me give you an example. It concerns the story of Bill Cody, told by George Ritchie in his book Return from tomorrow.2) He describes that as an American soldier in May 1945, when World War II had ended, he assisted together with a group of American doctors, at a German concentration camp near Wuppertal. Amid the unimaginable misery there, Ritchie met a man, a Polish Jew, who made a great impression on him. The man, whom he calls Bill Cody, stood out because, unlike the other prisoners, he walked upright, had bright eyes and had almost inexhaustible energy. Because he spoke five languages fluently, the Americans appointed him as their interpreter. Tirelessly he worked for more than fifteen hours a day to assist them. A sphere of love and compassion went out from him, bringing warmth to other people. All the different groups in the camp seemed to see him as a friend. If a fight broke out, they asked him to mediate. He also talked ceaselessly with prisoners who were entrapped in such intense hatred that they wanted to shoot every German they encountered. He urged them to learn to forgive their enemies.

Bill Cody recounts his story to Ritchie:

"We lived in the Warsaw ghetto, my wife and I, both our daughters and our three young boys. When the Germans reached our street, they put everyone against the wall and opened fire with their machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German, they put me on a team of forced labourers.

He hesitated for a second and then continued: 'At that moment I had to decide for myself whether I should hate these soldiers or not. It was not a difficult choice. I was a lawyer. In my practice, I had seen all too often what hatred can do to people's bodies and minds. Hate had just killed the six people who were more important to me than anything else in the world. That is why I decided at that moment that I would love everyone I would meet for the remainder of my lifetime – whether I would survive for a few days or many years.'

The forces of evil

When one reads this, you ask yourself, how is it possible that Bill Cody, at the moment his loved ones were shot in front of him, was not immediately filled with an intense hatred that would seek to destroy everything? We might expect that to happen, as, since the fall, the forces of evil live in every human being on earth. In addition to the Luciferic forces, there are the Ahrimanic forces of untruth, lying and hatred and the annihilating, destructive forces of the Asuras. Every human being on earth carries these in themselves, even the meekest. And so also Bill Cody. They wait for the right moment – often one of pain or fear – to break outward through the person and do their destructive work.

How come that was not the case with Cody? After this most terrible moment in his life, how could he decide to love every human being he meets afterwards? Including Germans?

In our time, that is a highly urgent question. For, as our higher selves wake up in us, these dark, negative spiritual forces in us are increasingly doing everything in their power to prevent the related inner transformation in our soul. That is why they incite us with all their strength to egotism, abuse of power and domination, and create chaos and confusion by sowing untruths and hatred. Where insight and truth are sought, they try to undermine it. All over the world, we can perceive these trends.

The powers of good

Since these negative powers are so dominant, they would surely succeed if, in addition to them, there were no other forces at work in the soul. The story of Bill Cody shows us that there are such forces.

If that had not been the case, he would not have been able to take the steps he did, and he would not have become the extraordinary individual he was. What powers are these?

These are the forces of consciousness, of light, love, and progress. They sprout from out of our higher spiritual selves and from out of Christ. Because these high spiritual forces live and work in the inner being of humanity since the death and resurrection of Christ on Golgotha, we can develop further. And with it, recognise and overcome the forces of egoism, hatred, untruth, and the evil within us.

This is possible since the active presence of our spiritual self and Christ gives us several vital aptitudes to help us do so. Capabilities that allow us, despite the presence and increasing influence of the negative forces, to change inwardly and become spiritually active so that spiritual transformation can take place and our development can continue. What are these capacities?

  • Being able to distance yourself from yourself and the things around you
  • Determine, find, truth
  • Being able to make choices
  • Becoming free
  • Being able to act in the right way

How can they be recognised? And how can we utilise them for our development?

The five spiritual faculties

Let us get back to Bill Cody. The moment that terrible event took place, and his loved ones were shot in front of his eyes, he could have been completely overwhelmed by the dark forces. That, however, did not occur. In a flash, he distances himself from what is happening, oversees the situation, becomes aware of alternatives before him and then makes the described decision, based on a value, a moral consideration.

You can distance yourself by not being carried away by your emotions, and by looking at the situation from a higher point of view, the point of view of your spiritual self.

If you do not, you will be overwhelmed and swept away by the negative forces of the moment.

As he distances himself, Cody oversees the whole situation in a split second. He sees what happens: his loved ones are all shot. Discovering truth in his case means recognising what is going on at that moment and at the same time becoming aware of the different ways to respond. Then, in the wink of an eye, he takes the only response that he inwardly feels is the right one. From the strength he receives from this – for finding truth gives strength – he can say 'no' to the forces of hatred and destruction that well up in him and want to seduce him into negative actions. He can resist them. He knows the consequences of allowing them in his inner self. He had seen the examples of this in his work as a lawyer and in the concentration camp. He knew into which trap he was going to fall. By saying 'no' inwardly to the hatred and destructive forces within himself, he thus frees himself from the domination by the dark forces of evil.

The preceding indicates that we are dealing with four of the mentioned capacities: Cody reflects: he distances himself, oversees the situation, comes to insight, finds truth, and can hence keep himself free from the dark powers by taking the right decision.


Freedom however has two sides. You can become free of something and become free to something. By finding the truth and not letting the negative forces dominate, Cody became free from the negative powers. Then he freely chose to act in a particular way: based on insight (truth) into what hatred arouses in people, he takes the opposite position, deciding to opt for the good: to bring love to every human being he encounters. In other words, he chooses to care for other people, to love them and to carry and support them on their path in life. Whoever they are. This will be his new motivation in life. It is this moral principle, this moral value, coming from the world of the spirit, out of which he wants to live from that moment on. This moral value of 'doing good' also comes from his spiritual self and the active power of Christ within him.

They give him the mysterious strength and health, the compassion for people who suffer.

And beside that he also understands the profound forces of hatred and destruction which imprisons the Germans in the concentration camp. That is how he becomes free inwardly. His actions and choices were not imposed by any (religious) law from outside himself. His free deed came only from his deepest inner self, from the moral forces of his spiritual being.


This process pertains to the five abilities the human being of the present time can practice everywhere, any time of the day, in our lives by reflecting on our thinking, feeling, and acting.

If we do this, we will develop ever-greater freedom through purified, free, living thinking and awareness. In doing so, we transform ourselves in a spiritual sense.

We can call this reflection process a Michaelic way of thinking and consciousness. After all, it is the task of the Archangel Michael, together with humanity, to overcome the evil on earth through becoming conscious and acting out of insight and love, thus transforming evil into selflessness, truth, integrity, and the good. That means that every effort we human beings make to achieve this, helps the great Time Spirit, Michael, to fulfil his enormous task.

  1. See Rudolf Steiner Theosophy, chapter Body, Soul and Spirit.
  2. Ritchie, G.G., Return from tomorrow, 1978.


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