|"No one comes unto the Father except through Me." ~ John 14:6|
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Why is it that you're here? From where does your urge for esoteric development come? About 4000 years ago, and so before the Event of Golgotha, the etheric body enlivened the physical body in such a way that not all of the etheric body's forces were used to permeate the physical body, and it was to these forces that an esotericist turned, with these he turned to spiritual worlds. Then about 3000 years ago, all etheric bodies had sunk into the physical bodies, especially in Greece, and those who developed the greatest things in the physical realm felt that the spiritual world was a realm of shades. But now the physical body no longer absorbs all of the etheric body's forces, it rejects them, it is withering, for we are past the middle of Earth evolution, and it's only through these forces, which the physical body can no longer take in, that we can live in the spiritual world. And you who felt this urge for esoteric development, who were not satisfied with mere physical life and knowledge, you sensed these unused forces in you; they drove you to seek an esoteric life.
What's the difference between esoteric and exoteric? In exoteric life we get communications that are taken from esoteric life as food for our souls. In esoteric life we ourselves try to look into the worlds from which esoteric communications are taken.
What's given here is not just communications — it's advice that flows from spiritual inspiration. It's not just words, concepts, ideals — it's words, concepts, and ideals that are permeated with life, life germs that are sunk into our etheric forces and that should blossom there — they're realities. They've been tested repeatedly by those whom we call the masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings.
Esotericism is a source of life and of forces that flow through the world and that should also stream through us. And so every Sunday morning at 9 o'clock you should meditate on: In the Spirit of Mankind I feel united with all esotericists. When we begin our exercises it's of great importance that we first create inner quiet. It can be attained through patience. The only thing we have to combat is the thought: I won't attain it. We should reject this as a temptation. And even if it takes ever so long, the time will come when our thought horizon will become clear, if we just push away the sense impressions and thought that distract us with all the willpower that we muster. We should let the formulas and symbols live in us vigorously and energizingly, shouldn't form thoughts about them but should experience them and feel them to be like an inner light. They must take hold of us strongly, for they are drawn from the unspeakable word that has creative power. This is the Indians' mahavach; it's inspirations from words that sound through spiritual worlds; it's supposed to radiate in us like an inner sun.
Then we must create an inner void by erasing and suppressing everything that arises from memory, including theosophical contents, and just wait for what can rise in our soul — either something entirely new that we've never heard or had a inkling of, or a lively vision of occult facts that we received in exoteric life. Much more strength is needed for independent discoveries than for an intelligent understanding of the Pythagorean theorem or some other already found fact. What's communicated to us now we can also find ourselves, but probably only after 25 incarnations. We have the duty to work along with the present state of evolution by shortening the path as much as possible.
The relation of Christ — the primal ego — to the physical human form. Yoga and Vedanta. Pherecydes of Syros and the ancient Greek philosophers. Empedocles. [Seventh Recapitulation Lesson: Ourself as Faust/Lazarus]
The Gospel of Mark. Lecture 7 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, September 21, 1912:
When we are engaged in the study of one or other of the Gospels and trying to explain it, it would doubtless be best to leave the other Gospels altogether out of account. By this means it would be possible to reach the purest and best understanding of the prevailing tone of each. But it is obvious that such an approach could lead to misunderstandings, unless a ray of light were thrown upon it from one of the other Gospels. And precisely what we called yesterday the “greatest monologue in world history” can easily be misunderstood if someone were to consult in a superficial and not too accurate manner what had, for example, to be said in connection with the similar passage in the Matthew Gospel in the lectures I gave in Bern. [ Note 16 ] Indeed, an objection made from such a standpoint would really in a deeper logical sense be the same as if the statement were made that a man once stood on this platform and on his left was a bouquet of roses. Then another statement would be made that a man once stood on this platform and on his right was a bouquet of roses, and a man who had not been present proceeded to object, saying that there must be a mistake since one time the bouquet of roses was on the right and the other time on the left. It all depends on where the observer in question was standing, for both statements can be correct. So it is with the Gospels, where we are not concerned simply with an abstract biography of Christ Jesus, but with a rich world of external and occult facts that are presented in them.
In order to picture to ourselves this viewpoint let us now consider again what we called yesterday the “greatest monologue in world history,” the soliloquy of the God. We must recognize that the whole episode was especially concerned with the relationship between Christ Jesus and His closest disciples. And we must include in such a study most particularly what was said yesterday, that the spirit of Elijah, after it had been freed from the physical body of John the Baptist, was actually active as a kind of group soul of the disciples. What happened then cannot just be related in a simple external way since it took place in a much more complicated manner. To a certain extent there was a deep and inner connection between the soul of the Christ and the souls of the Twelve. Everything that took place within the soul of Christ was made up of processes of significance for that time, rich and manifold processes. But all that took place in the soul of Christ took place again in a kind of reflected image, a reflection in the souls of the disciples, but divided into twelve parts. In this way each of the Twelve experienced, as in a reflected image, a part of what happened in the soul of Christ Jesus; but each of the Twelve experienced it somewhat differently. What took place within the soul of Christ Jesus was like a harmony, a great symphony, reflected in the souls of each of the Twelve, in much the same way as twelve instruments can give forth a harmony. So any event that concerns one or more of the disciples in particular may be described from two sides. It is possible to describe how the event in question appeared within the soul of Christ, as, for example, in the case of the great world-historical monologue of Christ Jesus. It is possible to describe how it was experienced within His soul, and then it appears as it was described yesterday. But it also takes place in a certain reflected image in the soul of Peter. Peter has the same soul experience. But, whereas in the case of Christ Jesus it encompasses the whole of mankind, Peter's identical experience encompasses only a twelfth part of all mankind, a twelfth, a single zodiacal sign of the entire Christ spirit. For this reason it must be pictured differently when it concerns Christ Jesus Himself.
It must be spoken of in this way if we are to describe it in the sense of the Mark Gospel, for most remarkable things are described in it, and especially what is presented as having taken place within the soul of Christ Jesus Himself. By contrast the Matthew Gospel pictures more what has reference to the soul of Peter, and what Christ Jesus added to explain what took place within Peter's soul. If you read the Gospel carefully, you will notice how in the Matthew Gospel certain words have been added which give us the picture as perceived from the side of Peter. Otherwise, why should the words have been added, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed it to you but my Father in the heavens.” (Matt. 16:17)? In other words the soul of Peter felt something of what the soul of Christ had been feeling. But while Peter's soul felt that his master was Christ, this should be understood as meaning that Peter was for a time raised upward to an experience in his higher “I,” and that he was overwhelmed by this experience and then fell back, as it were, afterward. Nevertheless it was possible for him to penetrate through to a knowledge which, with a different aim and purpose, came about within the soul of Christ. Because Peter was able to do this, there followed the handing over of the power of the keys mentioned in the Matthew Gospel (Matt. 16:19), about which we spoke in our interpretation of that Gospel. By contrast, in speaking of the Mark Gospel we have emphasized, forcefully and simply, those words that indicate that the event, quite apart from what happened within Peter, took place at the same time and in a parallel manner as the monologue of God.
This is how we must look at these things, enabling us to feel how Christ Jesus deals with His own, how He leads them on from stage to stage, and how after the spirit of Elijah-John had passed over into them He could lead them more deeply than He could earlier into the comprehension of spiritual secrets. And one of our first impressions is that it is significant that the passage we discussed at the end of our last lecture, the monologue of the God, should be closely followed by the so-called Transfiguration or Transformation scene. That is also a significant element in the dramatic composition of the Mark Gospel. In order to shed light on the Transfiguration we need to point out a few facts that are related to many things necessary for the understanding of the picture presented in the Gospels. Let us begin by referring to one of these.
You can read often in the Mark Gospel, as well as in the other Gospels, how Christ Jesus speaks of how the Son of Man must suffer many things, that He would be set upon by the scribes and high priests, that He would be put to death and after three days would be raised. You will notice how up to a certain point the apostles are unable to understand at first what is meant by the suffering, death and raising of the Son of Man, how they experience a real difficulty particularly in understanding this passage (Mark 9:31-32). Why are we confronted with this peculiar fact? Why is it precisely with reference to the understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha itself that the apostles experience these difficulties? What then is the Mystery of Golgotha? We have already spoken of this. It is nothing else but the drawing forth of initiation from the depths of the mysteries onto the plane of world history. Of course there is a crucial difference between the average initiation and the Mystery of Golgotha. This difference consists in the following.
All those who were initiated into the mysteries of the various peoples had in a certain sense experienced the same thing. An initiate was made to suffer, and one could say that he was apparently dead for three days, during which his spirit remained in the spiritual worlds outside his body. Then his spirit was brought back into his body in such a way that the spirit in his body could remember what it had undergone in the spiritual world, and could then appear as a messenger, proclaiming the secrets of the spiritual world. Thus we can say that initiation is a journey into death, though in such a death the spirit is not separated entirely from the body, but only for a limited time. Initiation involves remaining outside the physical body and returning into it, thereby becoming a messenger for the secrets of the divine world. It took place after careful preparation, and after the candidate had reached a condition where his soul forces were so concentrated within him that he could live without using the instrument of his physical body. Then after these three and a half days he had to unite himself again with his physical body. We may say that the initiate passed through this by withdrawing into a higher world unconnected with ordinary historical events.
Although the Mystery of Golgotha was, to outward appearance, similar, it differed in its inner nature. The events that occurred during the period when the Christ dwelt in the body of Jesus of Nazareth had actually resulted in the genuine physical death of the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth. The spirit of Christ remained for three days outside the physical body but it then returned. And now it was not in the physical body but in the concentrated etheric body, concentrated in such a way that it was possible for the disciples to perceive it, as described in the Gospels — with the consequence that Christ could walk and become visible also after the event of Golgotha. Thereby initiation, which formerly took place in the depths of the mysteries, hidden from external eyes, was presented as a historical event, a unique event, before all mankind. Through this, initiation was, in a sense, lifted out of the mysteries; it had been accomplished by the one Christ before the eyes of everyone. And precisely with this event the ancient world came to an end and the new era began.
From the picture that has been given you of the prophets you have seen that the prophetic spirit, and what was given by this prophetic spirit to the ancient Hebrew people, differed from the spirit of initiation prevalent among other peoples. These other peoples had their initiates, who were initiated in the manner we have just described. This was not the case with the ancient Hebrew people. With them it was not a question of initiation of the same kind as among the other peoples. Here we have to do with an elemental emergence of the spirit within the bodies of those who appeared as prophets; something resembling “geniuses of spirituality” appeared. To enable this to happen we see that in the middle prophetic period souls appear in the ancient Hebrew people who in earlier incarnations had been initiates among the other peoples, so that they experience everything they give to the ancient Hebrew people as a memory of what they themselves had received in their initiation. For this reason spiritual life did not shine into the ancient Hebrew people in the same way as it did into other peoples. In the case of these other peoples it occurred through an act, through initiation, whereas in the case of the Old Testament people it came by virtue of the gifts that had been implanted in those who worked actively as prophets among the people. Through the activity of their prophets the Hebrew people were made ready to experience that unique initiation which was no longer that of a human individuality but of a cosmic individuality, if, indeed one may speak of an initiation at all in this case, which is no longer correct. Through this the Hebrew people were prepared to receive something that was to take the place of the old initiation: they were made ready to view the Mystery of Golgotha in the right way. But one consequence of this was that the apostles, who belonged to the Old Testament people, had at first no understanding of the words that characterize initiation. Christ Jesus spoke about initiation when He expressed himself in such terms as hastening toward death, remaining in the grave for three days and being raised from the dead. This is a description of initiation. If He had described it in a different way they would have understood Him. But because such a way of speaking of initiation was foreign to the Old Testament people the Twelve could not at first understand His description. So it is quite correctly pointed out to us that the disciples were astonished and did not know to what He was referring when He spoke of the suffering and death and raising of the Son of Man.
Such things are therefore entirely in accord with the spiritual content of the events as they are historically presented. When the ancient initiate experienced his initiation it is true that he was in a higher world while he was outside his body; he was not in the ordinary sense-perceptible world. We may say that while he was outside his body he was at one with the realities of a higher plane. While he was free of his body in the spiritual world, returning later to his body, what had he experienced? It was memory. He had to speak in such a way that he could say, “I remember my experiences when I was free of my body, in the same way as in ordinary life one can remember what one experienced yesterday or the day before.” He could bear witness to them. As far as these initiates are concerned it did not amount to much more than that they bore in their souls the secrets of the spiritual worlds in the same way that the human soul retains in memory what it experienced yesterday. And as the soul is united with what it retains as memory, so the initiates were united with the secrets of the spiritual world that they carried within themselves.
What was the reason for this? It was because before the Mystery of Golgotha human souls on earth were not adapted to allowing the kingdoms of the heavens, the supersensible worlds, to penetrate into the ego. They could not approach the true ego, could not unite themselves with it. Only if a man could see beyond himself or could glimpse the divine by means of the clairvoyance that existed in those ancient times, if, as I might put it, he dreamt himself away or were freed from his ego through initiation, could he enter the supersensible worlds. But within the ego there was no comprehension, no understanding of the higher worlds. This is how it was in those ancient times. Before the Mystery of Golgotha man could not unite himself with the spiritual worlds even by making use of all the forces pertaining to his ego.
The secret that was to be revealed to the people through the baptism of John was that the time had now come near when the kingdoms of heaven were to shine right into the ego; they were to approach the ego, the earthly ego. In truth it has been indicated all through the ages how what man could experience as his soul element could not in ancient times enter the supersensible worlds. In ancient times there was something like a disharmony between the way in which the true home of man, the spiritual world, was experienced, and that which, if we wish to describe the old soul nature as “ego,” was active in the inner being of man. This human inner self was separated from the spiritual world, and only in exceptional conditions could it be united with it. And when all the might of what was later to become the ego and to live within man, when all the power and the impulses of the ego filled him, for example through initiation, or through remembering the experience of initiation in a former incarnation in a later one — when the power and might of the ego prematurely penetrated into his bodily nature, what happened then? It has always been pointed out that in the pre-Christian era the ego force, too powerful for the human bodily nature, could not find its proper place in the body, and broke through what was destined for the ego.
For this reason those human beings who bear within themselves more of the supersensible world, bearing within themselves in pre-Christian times something of what would in a later age become the ego, such persons split apart their human bodily constitution with this ego force because this force is too strong for the pre-Christian era. This is clearly alluded to, for example, in the case of certain individualities during a particular incarnation who possess this ego force in themselves, but this ego can remain within them only because the body is in some way wounded, or vulnerable, wounded and having a vulnerable spot. It is in this spot that the individuality is exposed to danger from his surroundings more than in any other part of his body. We need only recall the vulnerability of Achilles' heel, of Siegfried and Oedipus whose bodies are split asunder by the force of the ego. These examples of wounds demonstrate to us how only a damaged body is compatible with the greatness of the ego, and the superhuman ego force that is within it.
Perhaps the significance of what I am trying to place before our souls could be grasped better if I formulate it in a different way. Let us suppose that someone in pre-Christian times were to be filled, not necessarily consciously, with all those impulses and forces that later on will penetrate the ego, and that these forces which I might call a superego force, a superhuman force, were to dive down into his body. He would have to break apart his body and not perceive it as it was when it had its weak ego, its weak inner self, within it. A man of olden times would necessarily have seen it differently if he possessed within himself the whole power of the ego, enabling him to rise up out of his body. He would have seen the body as it actually was, broken under the influence of the superego. He would have seen it with every kind of wound imaginable because in ancient times only a weak ego, a weak inner self, penetrated the body so slightly that it could remain whole.
What I have just said was indeed stated by the prophets. The passage (Zechariah 12:10) is so formulated that it runs approximately as follows, “A man who unites in himself the full force of egohood and is confronted with the human body, sees it wounded, pierced through with holes. For the higher ego force which in ancient times could not yet live within the inner self, pierces through, penetrates and makes holes in the body.” This is an impulse that runs through the evolution and development of mankind for the reason that as a result of the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman in pre- Christian times only a portion of the ego could be bestowed on man. And because the body is adapted only to the smaller portion and not to the whole force of the ego, it is worn down. It was not because this took place in the pre-Christian era but because in the case of Christ Jesus the full power of the ego entered all at once, and entered with the utmost strength into His bodily being, that this body had to appear not only with a single wound, as was the case with so many human individualities who carried a superego, but with five wounds. These were necessary because the Christ-Being, that is, the full ego of man, projected far beyond the bodily form appropriate for those times. It was for this reason that the cross had to be erected on the physical plane of world history, that cross that bore the body of Christ, a human body such as that of man would be if for a moment the whole of man's nature, a large part of which has been lost through the influence of Lucifer and Ahriman, were to live within one single human being.
It is a profound mystery that is given to us by occult science in the picture of the Mystery of Golgotha. Anyone who understands the true nature of the human being and of humanity, and the nature of the earthly ego and its relation to the form of the human body, knows that when the human body is entirely penetrated by the earthly ego such a penetration would be abnormal for the ordinary man as he walks about on earth. But when a man goes out of himself and sees himself from outside and is able to ask the question, “How would this body be if the totality of egohood were to enter into it?” then his answer must be that it would be pierced by five wounds. The form of the cross on Golgotha with Christ upon it with His wounds is derived from the nature of man and from the very being of the earth itself. From our study of the nature of man it is possible for the picture of the Mystery of Golgotha to arise for us out of our own knowledge. Strange as it may seem, it is actually possible to see how the cross is raised on Golgotha, how the crucifixion takes place, and to perceive directly the truth of this historical event, and all this without the use of clairvoyance when such a vision would be natural. Because of the Mystery of Golgotha it is possible for the human intellect to approach so closely to this mystery that if it is used with sufficient sharpness and subtlety it can be transformed into an imagination, into a picture that then contains the truth. If we understand the nature of Christ and His relation to the human bodily form, our imagination can be guided in this way in such a manner that the picture of Golgotha itself arises for us. The older Christian painters were often guided in this way. Even though they were not perhaps in all cases clairvoyant, their knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha was so powerful that it impelled them so far that they were able to picture it in such a way that they could paint it. It was just at this great turning point of human evolution that the understanding of the being of Christ, in other words, the primal ego of man, emerged out of clairvoyance and rose up into the ego-soul of man.
It is possible to see the Mystery of Golgotha through clairvoyance outside the body. By what means? If while within the body a relationship has been established to the Mystery of Golgotha, it is possible also today to perceive it in the higher worlds, and in so doing to receive a full confirmation of the truth of this great nodal point in the evolution of mankind. It is, however, also possible to comprehend the Mystery of Golgotha, and the words I have just spoken ought to make this understanding possible. It is, of course, necessary to reflect and meditate on them for a long time. If anyone should feel it difficult to grasp what has just been said, such a feeling is perfectly justifiable, for it goes without saying that anything that can lead the human soul to a full understanding of the highest and most significant event that has ever happened on earth is bound to be difficult. In a certain way the disciples had to be led toward this understanding; and of all those who had to be led gradually to a new understanding of the evolution of mankind, Peter, James, and John proved to be the most suitable.
It is good for us to picture to ourselves from as many sides as we can the significant epoch that began at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. Therefore it was especially helpful that you were able to hear this morning how Hegel [ Note 17 ] envisaged this turning point of time. We need everything that human understanding can contribute if we are to grasp the significance of what entered into human evolution at that time, something that had been maturing during the preceding centuries and took place about the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, thereafter slowly preparing and conditioning the further evolution of humanity. It manifested itself in various parts of the earth and we can trace it not only in Palestine where the Mystery of Golgotha itself occurred, but in other parts of the earth where the Mystery of Golgotha did not occur. If we proceed in the right way we can trace how as a result of the Mystery of Golgotha mankind descended and then reascended, and was uplifted as the Mystery of Golgotha spread throughout the Western world. In particular we can trace the descent of mankind, and this indeed is especially interesting.
Let us consider once again the land of Greece, and picture to ourselves what happened there half a millennium before the Mystery of Golgotha. In the East, where Krishna appeared, people were in a certain way ahead of their time in the period when the old clairvoyance was dying out. Indeed, there was something remarkable about the culture of ancient India. During the time immediately following the Atlantean age with the great cultural flowering of the first post-Atlantean epoch, the human soul still had the possibility of seeing into the spiritual world in the purest manner. In the case of the Rishis this faculty was accompanied by the wonderful ability to present what they had seen in such a way that it could influence later ages. Then when the clairvoyance disappeared, what they had given could be preserved in such significant revelations as those given out by Krishna; although the true clairvoyance already had been extinguished by the end of the third epoch. But what had been perceived in this earlier age was preserved in wonderful words through Krishna and his pupils, with the result that what at an earlier time had been seen could now be expressed in writing. So what happened further west, for example in Greece, never happened in India at all.
If we perceive correctly the Indian world we may say that the old clairvoyance died out, and because it died out some men, among whom Krishna was the most important, wrote down in wonderful words what had formerly been seen. This, then, appears in the Vedas, in the word; and anyone who immerses himself in the word experiences an echo of it in his soul. But this is quite different from what came forth, for example, in Socrates or other philosophers. What may be called Western intellect, Western power of judgment, never appears in Indian souls. Nor can there be found one example in India of what we today speak of in the fullest sense as the inborn power of the ego. As a result just as the old clairvoyance was dying out there came an urge toward Yoga, a new means of ascending into the spiritual worlds through training as a compensation for the loss of natural clairvoyance. Yoga therefore became an artificial clairvoyance, and the philosophy of Yoga appeared without a time interval, such as that during which, in Greece, for example, a rational philosophy appeared. Nothing of this appeared in India; an interim phase was totally lacking. If we take up the Vedanta philosophy of Vyasa we may say that it is not distinguished for its ideas and intellect as are the teachings of the Western world conceptions, but it appears to have been brought down from higher worlds though expressed in human speech. What is remarkable about it is that it was not achieved through human thinking, nor is it thought out like the characteristic teachings of Socrates and Plato. It was, indeed, the product of clairvoyant perception.
It is difficult to come to a clear idea about such matters. Nevertheless, there is a possibility even at the present time to experience the difference between these two kinds of philosophy. Take up any book on philosophy, any presentation of some Western philosophical system. How has anything that can be regarded as a serious philosophy been achieved? If you could see into the workroom of anyone who can be regarded today as a serious philosopher you would see how it is through the power of logical thinking and logical judgment that such systems are created, and each is built up step by step. But those who work out their philosophies in this way are quite unable to understand that their kind of conceptual weaving can also to a certain extent be perceived clairvoyantly, that a clairvoyant can see it in front of him through his clairvoyance. If therefore, instead of passing through all the individual stages of thought we were to survey clairvoyantly, in one fell swoop so to speak, a number of philosophical theses that have been woven together by the sweat of one's brow, concept by concept, then we shall experience much difficulty in making ourselves understood. Yet the concepts of the Vedanta philosophy are concepts of this kind, and they were seen clairvoyantly. They were not acquired by the sweat of the brow, like the concepts of European philosophers, but were brought down clairvoyantly. They are just the last remnants of the ancient clairvoyance, diluted into abstract concepts. Or else they are the first fragile conquests of Yoga in the supersensible worlds.
Those people who lived more to the West went through different experiences. There we see remarkable and important inner events in the evolution of mankind. Let us take the case of a remarkable philosopher of the sixth century before the Christian era, Pherecydes of Syros. [ Note 18 ] He was indeed a remarkable philosopher, though present-day philosophers do not count him even as a philosopher at all. There are books on philosophy which actually say — I will quote a few words verbatim — that all he gives are childish symbols, childish descriptions. So does a man today speak who imagines himself to be greatly superior to those ancient philosophers. He calls these notions “childish and ingenious.” Nevertheless, half a millennium before the Christian era a remarkable thinker emerged in Syros. Certainly he describes things differently from other thinkers, who were later to be called philosophers. For example, Pherecydes says, “Underlying everything visible in the world is a trinity: Chronos, Zeus and Chthon. From Chronos comes the airy, the fiery and the watery element. Ophioneus, a kind of serpent being, comes into conflict with all that stems from these three powers.” Even if we have no clairvoyance but only some imagination it is possible to see in front of us everything that he describes. Chronos is put forward not merely as abstract passing time but as a real being in a perceptible form. It is the same with Zeus, the limitless ether, as a living self-perpetuating being; while Chthon, who draws down to earth what once was heavenly, draws together into the planet earth all that is woven in space, in order to make earthly existence possible. All this happens on earth. Then a kind of serpent being interferes, and introduces, so to speak, a hostile element. If we examine what this remarkable Pherecydes of Syros describes, it can easily be understood without the aid of spiritual research. He is a last straggler endowed with the clairvoyance of earlier times. He sees behind the sense world to the real causes, and these he describes with the aid of his clairvoyance. Naturally this does not at all please those who prefer to juggle concepts. He sees the living weaving of the good gods and how hostile powers interfere in their work; and all this he describes from the viewpoint of a clairvoyant. He sees how the elements are born out of Chronos, out of Time seen as a real being.
So we have in this philosopher Pherecydes of Syros a man who still sees into the world with his soul, gazing into the world disclosed by clairvoyant consciousness, and describing it; and we are able to follow his description. Thus he stands before us in the Western world as late as the sixth century, who are almost his contemporaries, stand there in a quite different manner. Here two worlds actually come together. But how does it appear within the souls of these men? The old clairvoyance has been extinguished, paralyzed in them, and at most all that is left is a longing for the spiritual worlds. What, then, do they experience in place of the living vision that the sage of Syros still possessed, a man who could still look into the world of primal causes? This world has closed to them; they can no longer see into it. It is as if this world wished to close itself to them, as if it was still half present for them but nevertheless eluded them, with the result that they replace the old clairvoyance with abstract concepts that belong to the ego. This is how it appears in the souls of these men. Indeed within these Western souls there was a very remarkable condition of soul at that time. It is moving in the direction of intellect and judgment, which are precisely the characteristics of the ego. We see this within individual souls, as, for instance, in Heraclitus who still describes the living weaving fire as the cause of everything, with, we could say, a last trace of true clairvoyant vision. Thales spoke of water, but he did not mean physical, material water any more than Heraclitus meant physical material fire. But it remains something from the elemental world, which they can still half see through while at the same time it half eludes them, so that all they can give out are abstract concepts. In looking into these souls we can understand how something of the soul mood of these men can still echo into our own time.
If only our contemporaries were not so prone to skim thoughtlessly over so much that is of value! It is so easy to skim lightly over a passage in Nietzsche that can profoundly move us, take possession of us and shake our souls. The passage occurs in his posthumous work Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks, where he describes Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras and Empedocles. Right at the beginning of this work there is a passage where, if we truly enter into it, we can see that Nietzsche perceived something of what these first lonely Greek thinkers experienced in their souls. Look up the passage in Nietzsche where he says, “How must it have been with the souls of those heroes of philosophy who had to make the transition from the period of living vision (of which Nietzsche knew nothing but that he was able to sense) to an age when what had formerly been alive in their souls was superseded by dry, abstract, prosaic concepts; when ‘being,’ that cold, abstract, prosaic notion, appeared, as a ‘concept,’ replacing the full aliveness of clairvoyant consciousness?” And Neitzsche feels, “It is as if our blood would freeze in our veins when we cross over from the realm of life into the world of concepts in Thales or Heraclitus who use such concepts as ‘being’ and ‘becoming,’ so that we pass from the warm realm of becoming over into the icy region of ‘concepts.’”
We must transport ourselves in feeling into the age in which these men were living, and how they stood when the Mystery of Golgotha was approaching. We must enter into their being in such a way that we can perceive how there is still within them a dim echo of former times, yet how they must content themselves with the power of abstract judgment that lives in the human ego, a power that was unnecessary in earlier times. And whereas in later eras the world of concepts became richer and richer, in the first period when the world of concepts was coming closer the Greek philosophers could grasp nothing but the most simple of them. How they tormented themselves with such concepts as abstract “being,” especially the philosophers of the Eleatic school! But it was in this way that the present-day abstract qualities of the ego were prepared.
Let us now think of a soul which is rooted in the West, prepared for the mission of the West, and yet bears within itself the powerful echo of ancient clairvoyance. In India these echoes have long since died away, but they are still present in the West. The soul has the impulse to enter the elemental world, but it is prevented by its consciousness. A mood such as that of the Buddha could not arise in such souls. The Buddha mood would have said, “We are brought into the world of suffering. Let us free ourselves from it.” But Western souls wanted to take hold of what was ahead of them. They could not go back into what lay behind them. But in the world in front of them they could find only cold, icy concepts. Consider such a soul as Pherecydes of Syros who was the last to be able to see into the elemental world. Now let us think of one of the other souls who cannot see how the elements are born in a living way out of Chronos. It is unable to see how Ophioneus, the serpent-being, enters into conflict with the higher gods, but it is able to glimpse that something is at work in the physical material world. It cannot see through to Chronos, but it sees the imprint of Chronos in the world of sense, in fire, water, air and earth. It is not able to see how the higher gods are opposed by the lower gods, and how Lucifer, the serpent-god, rebels; but it does see how harmony and disharmony, friendship and enmity prevail. It sees love and hate as abstract concepts, and fire, water, air, and earth as abstract elements. The soul beholds all that still at that time penetrated into it, but what had been seen earlier by contemporaries is now hidden.
Let us think of such a soul still standing within the livingness of the earlier era, but unable to see into the spiritual world, able only to grasp its external counterpart, a soul which because of its special mission found that what had previously brought bliss to human beings was hidden from it. Yet this soul has nothing from the new world of the ego save a few concepts to which it feels obliged to cling. What we have before us is the soul of Empedocles. If we wish to comprehend the inner being of such a soul, then it is the soul of Empedocles that stands before us. Empedocles is almost a contemporary of the sage of Syros; he lives scarcely two-thirds of a century later. But his soul is constituted quite differently. It had the task of crossing the Rubicon that separated the old clairvoyance from the abstract comprehension of the ego. We see here two worlds suddenly clashing with one another. Here we see the dawning of the ego and how it advances toward its fulfillment. We see the souls of the ancient Greek philosophers who were the first to be condemned to take up what we now call intellect and logic; and we see at the same time how their souls were emptied of the old revelations. Into these souls the new impulse, the impulse of Golgotha, had to be poured.
Thus were their souls constituted when the new impulse was born. But they had to yearn for a new fulfillment; without such a yearning they could not understand it. In Indian thinking there is scarcely any transition comparable with what we find in the lonely Greek thinkers. Therefore Indian philosophy which had just made its transition to the teaching of Yoga hardly offers any possibility of discovering the transition to the Mystery of Golgotha. Greek philosophy was prepared in such a way that it thirsted for the Mystery of Golgotha. Consider the Gnosis, and how it longed in its philosophy for the Mystery of Golgotha. The philosophy of the Mystery of Golgotha rests on a Greek foundation because the best of the Greek souls longed to receive into themselves the impulse of Golgotha.
In order to understand what happened in mankind's evolution we must have goodwill. We might then be able to perceive something that might be described as a call, and an answering call from the very soil of the Earth. If we look at Greece and then further toward Sicily and look into such souls, among whom Empedocles is one of the most outstanding, then we become aware of an astonishing kind of appeal. How can we characterize this for ourselves? What are such souls saying? If we look into the soul of Empedocles we hear something like this: “I know of initiation through history. From history I know that the supersensible world entered into human souls through initiation. Initiation can no longer come alive in us. Now we are living in a different phase of evolution, and we have need of a new impulse that reaches into the ego. Tell me, Impulse, where are you, you who are to take the place of the initiation of the past that we are no longer able to experience, whose task is to place before the new ego the same Mystery that was once contained within the old clairvoyance?”
To this appeal there came in answer the cry from Golgotha: “By obeying the gods and not human beings I was permitted to bring down the Mysteries and set them before all mankind, so that what could hitherto be found only in the depths of the Mysteries might now be bestowed on all mankind.”
What was born in Greek souls in southern Europe comes to us as a request from the Western world for a new solution of the world riddle. And as the answer, an answer that can be understood only in the West, comes the great monologue of the God, of which we spoke at the conclusion of yesterday's lecture, and of which we shall speak again tomorrow.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
|"The return of the prodigal son" by Rembrandt|
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 5 of 5.
A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner on New Year's Day, 1913:
During this course of lectures we have brought before our souls two remarkable documents of humanity, although necessarily described very briefly on account of the limited number of lectures; and we have seen what impulses had to flow into the evolution of mankind in order that these two significant documents, the sublime Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, might come into existence. What is important for us to grasp is the essential difference between the whole spirit of the Gita and that of the Epistles of St. Paul. As we have already said: in the Gita we have the teachings that Krishna was able to give to his pupil Arjuna. Such teachings can only be given and should only be given to one person individually, for they are in reality exactly what they appear in the Gita: teachings of an intimate nature. On the other hand, it may be said that they are now within the reach of anyone, because they appear in the Gita. This naturally was not the case at the time the Gita was composed. They did not then reach all ears; they were then only communicated by word of mouth. In those old days teachers were careful to ascertain the maturity of the pupil to whom they were about to communicate such teachings; they always made sure of his being ready for them. In our time this is no longer possible as regards all the teachings and instructions which have in some way come openly to light. We are living in an age in which the spiritual life is in a certain sense public. Not that there is no longer any occult science in our day, but it cannot be considered occult simply because it is not printed or spread abroad. There is plenty of occult science even in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte, for instance, although everyone can procure it in printed form, is really a secret teaching; and finally Hegel's philosophy is also a secret doctrine, for it is very little known and has indeed many reasons in it for remaining a secret teaching; and this is the case with many things in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte and the philosophy of Hegel have a very simple method of remaining secret doctrine, in that they are written in such a way that most people do not understand them, and fall asleep if they read the first pages. In that way the subject itself remains a secret doctrine, and this is the case in our own age with a great deal which many people think they know. They do not know it; thus these things remain secret doctrine; and, in reality, such things as are to be found in the Gita also remain secret doctrine, although they may be made known in the widest circles by means of printing. For while one person who takes up the Gita today sees in it great and mighty revelations about the evolution of man's own inner being, another will only see in it an interesting poem; to him all the perceptions and feelings expressed in the Gita are mere trivialities. For let no one think that he has really made what is in the Gita his own, although he may be able to express in the words of the Gita itself what is contained in it, but which may itself be far removed from his comprehension. Thus the greatness of the subject itself is in many respects a protection against its becoming common. What is certain is that the teachings which are poetically worked out in the Gita are such that each one must follow, must experience, them for himself, if through them he wishes to rise in his soul and finally experience the meeting with the Lord of Yoga, with Krishna. It is therefore an individual matter; something which the great Teacher addresses to one individual alone.
It is a different thing when we consider the contents of the Epistles of St. Paul from this point of view. There we see that all is for the community, all is matter appealing to the many. For if we fix our attention upon the innermost core of the essence of the Krishna-teaching we must say: What one experiences through this teaching, one experiences for oneself alone, in the strictest seclusion of one's own soul, and one can only have the meeting with Krishna as a lonely soul-wanderer, after one has found the way back to the original revelations and experiences of mankind. That which Krishna can give must be given to each individual.
This is not the case with the revelation given to the world through the Christ Impulse. From the beginning the Christ Impulse was intended for all humanity, and the Mystery of Golgotha was not consummated as an act for the individual soul alone; but we must think of the whole of mankind from the very beginning to the very end of the Earth's evolution, and realize that what happened at Golgotha was for all humans. It is to the greatest possible extent a matter for the community in general. Therefore the style of the Epistles of St. Paul, apart from all that has already been characterized, must be quite different from the style of the sublime Gita.
Let us once more picture clearly the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna. He gives his pupil unequivocal directions as Lord of Yoga as to how he can rise in his soul in order to attain the vision of Krishna. Let us compare with this an especially pregnant passage in the Pauline Epistles, in which a community turns to St. Paul and asks him whether this or that was true, whether this could be considered as giving the right views about what he had taught. In the instructions which St. Paul gives we find a passage which may certainly be compared in greatness, even in artistic style, with what we find in the sublime Gita; but at the same time we find quite a different tone, we find everything spoken from quite a different soul-feeling. It is where St. Paul writes to the Corinthians of how the different human gifts to be found in a group of people must work in cooperation. To Arjuna, Krishna says “Thou must be so and so, thou must do this or that, then wilt thou rise stage by stage in thy soul-life.” To his Corinthians St. Paul says: “One of you has this gift, another that, a third another; and if these work harmoniously together, as do the members of the human body, the result is spiritually a whole which can be permeated with the Christ.” Thus through the subject itself St. Paul addresses himself to men who work together, that is to say, to a multitude; and he uses an important opportunity to do this: namely, when the gift of the so-called speaking with tongues comes under consideration.
What is this speaking with tongues that we find spoken of in St. Paul's Epistles? It is neither more nor less than a survival of old spiritual gifts, which, in a renewed way, but with full human consciousness, confront us again at the present time. For when, among our initiation methods, we speak of Inspiration, it is understood that a man who attains to Inspiration in our age does so with a clear consciousness; just as he brings a clear consciousness to bear upon his powers of understanding and his sensory realizations. But in olden times this was different; then such a man spoke as an instrument of high spiritual beings who made use of his organs to express higher things through his speech. He might sometimes say things which he himself could not understand at all. Thus revelations from the spiritual worlds were given which were not necessarily understood by him who was used as an instrument — and just that was the case in Corinth. The situation had there arisen of a number of persons having this gift of tongues. They were then able to make this or that prediction from the spiritual worlds. Now, when a man possesses such gifts everything he is able to reveal by their means is under all circumstances a revelation from the spiritual world, yet it may nevertheless be the case that one man may say this and another that, for spiritual sources are manifold, One may be inspired from one source and another from another, and thus it may happen that the revelations do not correspond. Complete harmony can be found only when these worlds are entered in full consciousness. Therefore St. Paul gives the following admonition: “Some there are who can speak with tongues, others who can interpret the words spoken. They should work together as do the right and left hands, and we should not only listen to those who speak with tongues but also to those who have not that gift but who can expound and understand what someone is able to bring down from the spiritual sphere.” Here again St. Paul was urging the question of a community which might be founded through the united working of men. In connection with this very speaking with tongues St. Paul gave that address which, as I have said, is in certain respects so wonderful that in its might it may well compare, though in a different way, with the revelations of the Gita. He says (1 Cor. 12:3-31): “As regards the spiritually gifted brethren, I will not leave you without instructions. You know that in the time of your heathendom it was to dumb idols that you were blindly led by desire. Wherefore I make clear to you: that just as little as one speaking in the Spirit of God says: Accursed be Jesus; so little can a man call Him Lord but through the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gracious gifts, but there is one Spirit. There are diversities in the guidance of mankind, but there is one Lord. There are differences in the force which individual men possess; but there is one God Who works in all these forces. But to every man is given the manifestation of the Spirit, as much as he can profit by it. So to one is given the word of prophecy, to another the word of knowledge; others are spirits who live in faith; again others have the gift of healing, others the gift of prophecy, others have the gift of seeing into men's characters, others that of speaking different tongues, and to others again is given the interpretation of tongues; but in all these worketh one and the same Spirit, apportioning to each one what is due to him. For as the body is one and hath many members, yet all the members together form one body, so also is it with Christ. For through the Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, and have all been imbued with one spirit; so also the body is not made of one but of many members. If the foot were to say: Because I am not the hand therefore I do not belong to the body, it would nonetheless belong to it. And if the ear were to say: Because I am not the eye I do not belong to the body, nonetheless does it belong to the body. If the whole body were only an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were a sense of hearing, where would be the power of smell? But now hath God set each one of the members in the body where it seemed good to Him. If there were only one member, where would the body be? But now there are truly many members, but there is only one body. The eye may not say to the hand: I do not require thee! nor the head to the feet: I have no need of you; rather those which appear to be the feeble members of the body are necessary, and those which we consider mean prove themselves to be especially important. God has put the body together and has recognized the importance of the unimportant members that there should be no division in the body, but that all the members should work harmoniously together and should care for one another. And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, and if one member prosper, all the members rejoice with it. But ye,” said St. Paul to his Corinthians, “are the Body of Christ, and are severally the members thereof. And some God hath set in the community as apostles, others as prophets, a third part as teachers, a fourth as miraculous healers, a fifth for other activities in helping, a sixth for the administration of the community, and a seventh He set aside to speak with tongues. Shall all men be prophets, shall all men be apostles, shall all be teachers, all healers, shall all speak with tongues, or shall all interpret? Therefore it is right for all the gifts to work together, but the more numerous they are the better.”
Then Paul speaks of the force that can prevail in the individual but also in the community, and that holds all the separate members together, as the strength of the body holds the separate members of the body together. Krishna says nothing more beautiful to one man than St. Paul spoke to humanity in its different members. Then he speaks of the Christ Power, which holds the different members together just as the body holds its different members together; and the force that can live in one individual as the life-force in every one of his limbs, and yet lives also in a whole community; that is described by St. Paul in powerful words: “Nevertheless I will show you,” says he, “the way that is higher than all else. If I could speak with tongues of men of or angels and have not love, my speech is but as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal; and if I could prophesy and reveal all secrets and communicate all the knowledge in the world, and if I had all the faith that could remove mountains themselves and had not love, it would all be nothing. And if I distributed every spiritual gift, yea, if I gave my body itself to be burnt, but were lacking in love, it would all be in vain. Love endures ever. Love is kind. Love knows not envy. Love knows not boasting, knows not pride. Love injures not what is decorous, seeks not her own advantage, does not let herself be provoked, bears no one any malice, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices only in truth. Love envelops all, streams through all beliefs, hopes all things, practices toleration everywhere. Love, if it exists, can never be lost. Prophesies vanish when they are fulfilled; what is spoken with tongues ceases when it can no longer speak to human hearts; what is known ceases when the subject of knowledge is exhausted; for we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with. When I was a child I spoke as a child, I felt as a child; when I became a man, the world of childhood was past. Now we only see dark outlines in a mirror, but then we shall see the spirit face to face; now is my knowledge in part, but then I shall know completely, even as I myself am known. Now abides Faith, the certainty of Hope, and Love; but Love is the greatest of these, hence Love is above all. For if you could have all spiritual gifts, whoever himself understands prophecy must also strive after love; for whoever speaks with tongues speaks not among men, he speaks among Gods. No one understands him, because in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” We see how St. Paul understands the nature of speaking with tongues. His meaning is: The speaker with tongues is transported into the spiritual worlds; he speaks among Gods. Whoever prophesies speaks to men to build up, to warn, to comfort; he who speaks with tongues, to a certain extent satisfies himself; he who prophesies builds up the community. If you all attain to speaking with tongues, it is yet more important that you should prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, for he who speaks with tongues must first understand his own speaking, in order that the community should do so. Supposing that I came to you as a speaker with tongues; of what use should I be to you if I did not tell you what my speaking signifies as prophecy, teaching, and revelation? My speaking would be like a flute or a zither of which one could not clearly distinguish the sounds. How could one distinguish the playing of either the zither or of the flute if they did not give forth distinct sounds? And if the trumpet gave forth an indistinct sound, who would arm himself to battle? So it is with you; if you cannot connect a distinct language with the tongue-speaking, it is all merely spoken into the air.
All this shows us that the different spiritual gifts must be divided among the community, and that the members as individuals must work together. With this we come to the point at which the revelation of Paul, through the moment in human evolution in which it appears, must differ absolutely from that of Krishna. The Krishna revelation is directed to one individual, but in reality applies to every man if he is ripe to tread the upward path prescribed to him by the Lord of Yoga; we are more and more reminded of the primeval ages of mankind, to which we always, according to the Krishna teaching, return in spirit. At that time men were less individualized; one could assume that for each man the same teaching and directions would be suitable. St. Paul confronted mankind when individuals were becoming differentiated, when they really had to become differentiated, each one with his special capacity, his own special gift. One could then no longer reckon on being able to pour the same thing into each different soul; one had then to point to that which is invisible and rules over all. This, which lives in no man as a separate individual, although it may be within each one, is the Christ Impulse. The Christ Impulse, again, is something like a new group soul of humanity, but one that must be consciously sought for by men.
To make this clearer, let us picture to ourselves how, for instance, a number of Krishna students are to be distinguished in the spiritual worlds from a number of those who have been moved in the deepest part of their being by the Christ Impulse. The Krishna pupils have every one of them been stirred by one and the same impulse, which has been given them by the Lord of Yoga. In spiritual life each one of these is like the other. The same instructions have been given to them all. But those who have been moved by the Christ Impulse are each, when disembodied and in the spiritual world, possessed of their own particular individuality, their own distinct spiritual forces. Therefore even in the spiritual world one man may go in one direction and one in another; and the leader of both, the One Who pours Himself into the soul of each one, no matter how individualized he may be, is the Christ, Who is in the soul of each one and at the same time soars above them all. So we still have a differentiated community even when the souls are discarnate; while the souls of the Krishna pupils, when they have received instructions from the Lord of Yoga, are as one unit. The object of human evolution, however, is that souls should become more and more differentiated.
Therefore it was necessary that Krishna should speak in a different way. He really speaks to his pupils just as he does in the Gita. But St. Paul must speak differently. He really speaks to each individual, and it is a question of individual development whether, according to the degree of his maturity, a man remains at a certain stage of his incarnation at a standstill in exoteric life, or whether he is able to enter the esoteric life and raise himself into esoteric Christianity. We can go further and further in the Christian life and attain the utmost esoteric heights; but we must start from something different from what we start from in the Krishna teaching. In the Krishna teaching you start from the point you have reached as man, and raise the soul individually, as a separate being; in Christianity, before you attempt to go further along the path you must have gained a connection with the Christ Impulse, feeling in the first place that this transcends all else. The spiritual path to Krishna can only be trodden by one who receives instructions from Krishna; the spiritual path to Christ can be trodden by anyone, for Christ brought the mystery for all men who feel drawn toward it. That, however, is something external, accomplished on the physical plane; the first step is, therefore, taken on the physical plane. That is the essential thing.
Truly one need not, if one looks into the world-historical importance of the Christ Impulse, begin by belonging to this or that Christian denomination; on the contrary one can, just in our time, even start from an anti-Christian standpoint, or from one of indifference toward Christ. Yet if one goes deeply into the spiritual life of our own age, examining the contradictions and follies of materialism, perhaps one may genuinely be led to Christ even though to begin with one may not have belonged to any particular creed. Therefore when it is said outside our circle that we are starting from a peculiar Christian denomination, this must be regarded as a special calumny; for it is not a matter of starting from any denomination, but that in response to the demands of the spiritual life itself, everyone, be he Muslim or Buddhist, Jew or Hindu, or Christian, shall be able to understand the Christ Impulse in its whole significance for the evolution of mankind. This desire we can see deeply penetrating the whole view and presentation of St. Paul, and in this respect he is absolutely the one who sets the tone for the first proclamation of the Christ Impulse to the world.
As we have described how Sankhya philosophy concerns itself with the changing forms, with that which appertains to Prakriti, we may also say that St. Paul, in all that underlies his profound Epistles, deals with Purusha, that which pertains to the soul. What the soul is to become, the destiny of the soul, how throughout the whole evolution of mankind it evolves in manifold ways, concerning all this St. Paul gives us quite definite and profound conclusions.
There is a fundamental difference between what Eastern thought was still able to give us and what we find at once with such wonderful clearness in St. Paul. We pointed out yesterday that, according to Krishna, everything depended on man's finding his way out of the changing forms. But Prakriti remains outside, as something foreign to the soul. All the striving in this Eastern method of development and even in the Eastern initiation tends to free one from material existence, from that which is spread outside in nature; for that, according to the Veda philosophy, is merely maya. Everything external is maya, and to be free from maya is Yoga. We have pointed out how in the Gita it is expected of man that he shall become free from all he does and accomplishes, from what he wills and thinks, from what he likes and enjoys, and in his soul shall triumph over everything external. The work that man accomplishes should equally fall away from him, and thus resting within himself, he shall find satisfaction. Thus he who wishes to develop according to the Krishna teaching aspires to become something like a Paramahansa, that is to say, a high initiate who leaves all material existence behind him, who triumphs over all he has himself accomplished by his actions in this world of sense, and lives a purely spiritual existence, having so overcome what belongs to the senses that he no longer thirsts for reincarnation, that he has nothing more to do with what filled his life and at which he worked in this sense-world. Thus it is the issuing forth from this maya, the triumphing over it, which meets us everywhere in the Gita.
With St. Paul it is not so. If he had met with these Eastern teachings, something in the depth of his soul would have caused the following words to come forth: “Yes, thou wishest to rise above all that surrounds thee outside, from that also which thou formerly accomplished there! Dost thou wish to leave all that behind thee? Is not then all that the work of God, is not everything above which thou wishest to lift thyself created by the Divine Spirit? In despising that, art thou not despising the work of God? Does not the revelation of God's Spirit dwell everywhere within it? Didst thou not at first seek to represent God in thine own work, in love and faith and devotion, and now desirest thou to triumph over what is the work of God?”
It would be well, my dear friends, if we were to inscribe these words of St. Paul — which though unspoken were felt in the depths of his soul — deeply into our own souls; for they express an important part of what we know as Western revelation. In the Pauline sense, we too speak of the maya which surrounds us. We certainly say: We are surrounded by maya. But we also say: Is there not spiritual revelation in this maya, is it not all divine spiritual work? Is it not blasphemy to fail to understand that there is divine spiritual work in all things?
Now arises the other question: Why is that maya there? Why do we see maya around us? The West does not stop at the question as to whether all is maya: it inquires as to the wherefore of maya. Then follows an answer that leads us into the center of the soul — into Purusha. Because the soul once came under the power of Lucifer it sees everything through the veil of maya and spreads the veil of maya over everything. Is it the fault of objectivity that we see maya? No. To us as souls objectivity would appear in all its truth if we had not come under the power of Lucifer. It only appears to us as maya because we are not capable of seeing down into the foundations of what is spread out there. That comes from the soul's having come under the power of Lucifer; it is not the fault of the Gods, it is the fault of our own soul. Thou, O soul, hast made the world a maya to thyself, because thou hast fallen into the power of Lucifer.
From the highest spiritual grasp of this formula, down to the words of Goethe: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives,” is one straight line. The Philistines and zealots may fight against Goethe and his Christianity as much as they like; he might nevertheless say that he is one of the most Christian of men, for in the depths of his being he thought as a Christian, even in that very formula: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives.” It is the soul's own fault that what it sees appears as maya and not as truth. So that which in Orientalism appears simply as an act of the Gods themselves is diverted into the depths of the human soul, where the great struggle with Lucifer takes place.
Thus Orientalism, if we consider it aright, is in a certain sense materialism, in that it does not recognize the spirituality of maya, and wishes to rise above matter. That which pulses through the Epistles of St. Paul is a doctrine of the soul, although only existing in germ and therefore capable of being so mistaken and misunderstood as in our Tamas-time, but it will in the future be visibly spread out over the whole Earth. This, concerning the peculiar nature of maya, will have to be understood; for only then can one understand the full depth of that which is the object of the progress of human evolution. Then only does one understand what St. Paul means when he speaks of the first Adam, who succumbed to Lucifer in his soul, and who was therefore more and more entangled in matter — which means nothing else than this: ensnared in a false experiencing of matter. As God's creation, external matter is good: what takes place there is good. But what the soul experiences in the course of human evolution became more and more evil, because in the beginning the soul fell into the power of Lucifer.
Therefore St. Paul called Christ the Second Adam, for He came into the world untempted by Lucifer, and therefore He can be a guide and friend to men's souls, who can lead them away from Lucifer, that is, into the right relationship to Him. St. Paul could not tell mankind at that time all that he as an initiate knew; but if we allow his Epistles to work on us we shall see that there is more in their depths than they express externally. That is because St. Paul spoke to a community, and had to reckon with the understanding of that community. That is why in certain of his Epistles there seem to be absolute contradictions. But one who can plunge down into the depths finds everywhere the impulse of the Christ Being.
Let us here remember, my dear friends, how we ourselves have represented the coming into existence of the Mystery of Golgotha. As time went on we recognized that there were two different stories of the youth, of Christ Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, because in reality there are two Jesus boys in question. We have seen that externally — after the flesh, according to St. Paul, which means through physical descent — both Jesus boys descended from the stock of David; that one came from the line of Nathan and the other from that of Solomon; that thus there were two Jesus boys born at about the same time. In the one Jesus child, that of St. Matthew's Gospel, we find Zarathustra reincarnated: and we have emphatically stated that in the other Jesus child, the one described by St. Luke, there was no such human ego as is usually to be found, and certainly not as the one existing in the other Jesus child, in whom lived such a highly evolved ego as that of Zarathustra. In the Luke Jesus there actually lives that part of man that has not entered into human evolution on the Earth. [See also Steiner's The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind; The Gospel of St. Luke; The Gospel of St. Matthew.]
It is rather difficult to form a right conception of this, but we must just try to think how, so to speak, the soul that was incarnated in Adam, he who may be described as Adam in the sense of my book Occult Science, succumbed to Lucifer's temptation, symbolically described in the Bible as the Fall of Man in Paradise. We must picture this. Then we must picture further that side by side with that human soul nature which incarnated in Adam's body there was a human part, a human being, that remained behind and did not then incarnate, that did not enter a physical body, but remained “pure soul.” You need only now picture how, before a physical man arose in the evolution of humanity, there was one soul, which then divided itself into two parts. The one part, the one descendant of the common soul, incarnated in Adam and thus entered into the line of incarnations, succumbed to Lucifer, and so on. As to the other soul, the sister-soul, as it were, the wise rulers of the world saw beforehand that it would not be good that this too should be embodied; it was kept back in the soul world; it did not therefore take part in the incarnations of humanity, but was kept back. With this soul none but the initiates of the Mysteries had intercourse.
During the evolution preceding the Mystery of Golgotha this soul did not, therefore, take into itself the experience of an ego, for this can only be obtained by incarnating in a human body. Nonetheless, it had all the wisdom that could have been attained through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, it possessed all the love of which a human soul is capable. This soul remained blameless, as it were, of all the guilt that a man can acquire in the course of his incarnations in human evolution. It could not be met with as a human being externally; but it could be perceived by the old clairvoyants, and was recognized by them; they encountered it, so to say, in the Mysteries. Thus, here we have a soul, one might say, that was within, but yet above, the evolution of mankind, that could at first only be perceived in the spirit; a pre-man, a true super-man.
It was this soul which, instead of an ego, was incarnated in the Jesus child of St. Luke's Gospel. You will remember the lectures at Basle; this fact was already given out there. We have therefore to do with a soul that is only ego-like, one that naturally acts as an ego when it permeates the body of Jesus, but which in all it displays is yet quite different from an ordinary ego. I have already mentioned the fact that the boy of St. Luke's Gospel spoke a language understood by his mother as soon as he came into the world, and other facts of similar nature were to he observed in him.
Then we know that the Matthew Jesus, in whom lived the Zarathustra ego, grew up until his twelfth year, and the Luke child also grew up, possessing no particular human knowledge or science, but bearing the divine wisdom and the divine power of sacrifice within him. Thus the Luke Jesus grew up not being particularly gifted for what can be learnt externally. We know further that the body of the Matthew Jesus was forsaken by the Zarathustra ego, and that in the twelfth year of the Luke Jesus his body was taken possession of by that same Zarathustra ego. That is the moment referred to when it is related of the twelve-year-old Jesus of Luke's Gospel that when his parents lost him he stood teaching before the wise men of the Temple.
We know further that this Luke Jesus bore the Zarathustra ego within him up to his thirtieth year; that the Zarathustra ego then left the body of the Luke Jesus, and all its sheaths were taken possession of by Christ, a superhuman being of the higher Hierarchies, Who only could live in a human body at all inasmuch as a body was offered Him which had first been permeated up to its twelfth year with the pre-human Wisdom-forces, and the pre-human divine Love-forces, and was then permeated through and through by all that the Zarathustra ego had acquired through many incarnations by means of initiation. In no other way, perhaps, could one so well obtain the right respect, the right reverence — in short, the right feeling altogether — for the Christ Being as by trying to understand what sort of a body was needed for this Christ Ego to be able to enter humanity at all.
Many people consider that in this presentation, given out of the holy Mysteries of the newer age about the Christ Being, He is thus made to appear less intimate and human than the Christ Jesus so many have honored in the way in which He is generally represented — familiar, near to man, incarnate in an ordinary human body in which nothing like a Zarathustra ego lived. It is brought as a reproach against our teaching that Christ Jesus is here represented as composed of forces drawn from all regions of the cosmos.
Such reproaches proceed only from the indolence of human perception and human feeling which is unwilling to raise itself to the true heights of perception and feeling. The greatest of all must be so grasped by us that our souls have to make the supremest possible efforts to attain the inner intensity of perception and feeling necessary to bring the Greatest, the Highest, at all near to our soul. Our first feelings will thus be raised higher still, if we do but consider them in this light.
We know one other thing besides. We know how we have to understand the words of the Gospel: “Divine forces are being revealed in the Heights, and peace will spread among men of goodwill.” We know that this message of peace and love resounded when the Luke Jesus appeared, because Buddha intermingled with the astral body of the Luke Jesus; Buddha, who had already lived in a being who went through his last incarnation as Gautama Buddha and had risen to complete spirituality. So that in the astral body of the Luke Jesus, Buddha revealed himself, as he had progressed up to the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth.
Thus we have the Being of Christ Jesus presented before us in a way only now possible to mankind from the basis of occult science. St. Paul, although an initiate, was compelled to speak in concepts more easily understood at that time; he could not then have assumed a humanity able to understand such concepts as we have brought before your hearts today. His inspiration, however, was derived from his initiation, which came about as an act of grace. Because he did not attain this through regular schooling in the old Mysteries, but by grace on the road to Damascus when the risen Christ appeared to him, therefore I call this initiation one brought about by grace. But he experienced this Damascus Vision in such a way that by means of it he knew that He Who arose in the Mystery of Golgotha lives in the sphere of this Earth and has been attached to it since that Event. He recognized the risen Christ. From that time on he proclaimed Him.
Why was he able to see Him in the particular way he did? At this point we must enter somewhat into the nature of such a vision, such a manifestation, as that of Damascus: for it was a vision, a manifestation, of a quite peculiar kind. Only those people who never wish to learn anything of occult facts consider all visions as being of one kind. They will not distinguish such an occurrence as the vision of St. Paul from many other visions such as appeared to the saints later. What really was the reason that St. Paul could recognize Christ as he did when He appeared to him on the way to Damascus? Why did the certain conviction come to him that this was the risen Christ? This question leads us back to another one: What was necessary in order that the whole Christ Being should be able completely to enter into Jesus of Nazareth, at the baptism by John in the Jordan? Now, we have just said what was necessary to prepare the body into which the Christ Being could descend. But what was necessary in order that the Arisen One could appear in such a densified soul form as he appeared in to St. Paul? What, then, so to speak, was that halo of light in which Christ appeared to St. Paul before Damascus? What was it? Whence was it taken?
If we wish to answer these questions, my dear friends, we must add a few finishing touches to what I have already said. I have told you that there was, as it were, a sister-soul to the Adam-soul, to that soul which entered into the sequence of human generations. This sister-soul remained in the soul world. It was this sister-soul that was incarnated in the Luke Jesus.
But it was not then incarnated for the first time in a human body in the strictest sense of the words: it had already been once incarnated prophetically. This soul had already been made use of formerly as a messenger of the holy Mysteries; it was, so to say, cherished and cultivated in the Mysteries, and was sent whenever anything specially important to man was taking place; but it could only appear as a vision in the etheric body, and could only be perceived, strictly speaking, as long as the old clairvoyance remained. In earlier ages that still existed. Therefore this old sister-soul of Adam had no need at that time to descend as far as the physical body in order to be seen. So it actually appeared on Earth repeatedly in human evolution: sent forth by the impulses of the Mysteries at all times when important things were to take place in the evolution of the Earth; but it did not require to incarnate in ancient times, because clairvoyance was there.
The first time it needed to incarnate was when the old clairvoyance was to be overcome through the transition of human evolution from the third to the fourth post-Atlantean age, of which we spoke yesterday. Then, by way of compensation, it took on an incarnation, in order to be able to express itself at the time when clairvoyance no longer existed. The only time this sister-soul of Adam was compelled to appear and to become physically visible, it was incorporated, so to speak, in Krishna; and then it was incorporated again in the Luke Jesus.
So now we can understand how it was that Krishna spoke in such a superhuman manner, why he is the best teacher for the human ego, why he represents, so to speak, a victory over the ego, why he appears so psychically sublime. It is because he appears as human being at that sublime moment which we brought before our souls in the lecture before last, as Man not yet descended into human incarnations. He then appears again, to be embodied in the Luke Jesus.
Hence that perfection that came about when the most significant world-conceptions of Asia, the ego of Zarathustra and the spirit of Krishna, were united in the twelve-year-old Jesus described by St. Luke. He who spoke to the learned men in the Temple was therefore not only Zarathustra speaking as an ego, but one who spoke from those sources from which Krishna at one time drew Yoga; he spoke of Yoga raised a stage higher; he united himself with the Krishna force, with Krishna himself, in order to continue to grow until his thirtieth year. Then only have we that complete, perfected body which could be taken possession of by the Christ. Thus do the spiritual currents of humanity flow together. So that in what happened at the Mystery of Golgotha we really have a cooperation of the most important leaders of mankind, a synthesis of spirit-life.
When St. Paul had his vision before Damascus, He Who appeared to him then was the Christ. The halo of light in which Christ was enveloped was Krishna. And because Christ has taken Krishna for His own soul-covering through which He then works on further, therefore in the light which shone there, in Christ Himself, there is all that was once upon a time contained in the sublime Gita. We find much of that old Krishna-teaching, although scattered about, in the New Testament revelations.
This old Krishna-teaching has on that account become a personal matter to the whole of mankind, because Christ is not as such a human ego belonging to mankind, but to the Higher Hierarchies. Thus Christ belongs also to those times when man was not yet separated from that which now surrounds him as material existence, and which is veiled to him in maya through his own Luciferic temptation. If we glance back over the whole of evolution we shall find that in those olden times there was not yet that strict division between the spiritual and the material; material was then still spiritual, and the spiritual — if we may say so — still manifested itself externally. Thus because in the Christ Impulse something entered into mankind which completely prevented such a strict separation as we find in Sankhya philosophy between Purusha and Prakriti, Christ becomes the Leader of men out of themselves and toward the divine creation.
Must we then say that we must unconditionally give up maya now that we recognize that it seems to be given us through our own fault? No, for that would be blaspheming the spirit in the world; that would be assigning to matter properties which we ourselves have imposed upon it with the veil of maya. Let us rather hope that when we have overcome in ourselves that which caused matter to become maya, we may again be reconciled with the world.
For do we not hear resounding out of the world around us that it is a creation of the Elohim, and that on the last day of creation they considered: And behold, all was very good? That would be the karma to be fulfilled if there were nothing but Krishna-teaching (for there is nothing in the world that does not fulfil its karma). If in all eternity there had been only the teaching of Krishna, then the material existence which surrounds us, the manifestation of God of which the Elohim at the starting-point of evolution said: “Behold all was very good,” would encounter the judgment of men: “It is not good, I must abandon it!” The judgment of man would be placed above the judgment of God. We must learn to understand the words which stand as a mystery at the outset of evolution; we must not set the judgment of man above the judgment of God. If all and everything that could cling to us in the way of guilt were to fall away from us, and yet that one fault remained, that we slandered the work of the Elohim, the Earth-karma would have to be fulfilled; in the future everything would have to fall upon us and karma would have to fulfil itself thus.
In order that this should not happen, Christ appeared in the world, so to reconcile us with the world that we may learn to overcome Lucifer's tempting forces, and learn to penetrate the veil; that we may see the divine revelation in its true form; that we may find the Christ as the Reconciler, Who will lead us to the true form of the divine revelation, so that through Him we may learn to understand the primeval words: “And behold, it is very good.” In order that we may learn to ascribe to ourselves that which we may never again dare to ascribe to the world, we need Christ; for if all our other sins could be taken away from us, yet this sin could be removed only by Him. This, transformed into a moral feeling, is a newer side of the Christ Impulse. It shows us at the same time why the necessity arose for the Christ Impulse as the higher soul to envelop itself in the Krishna Impulse.
An exposition such as I have given you in this course, my dear friends, should not be taken as mere theory, merely as a number of thoughts and ideas to be absorbed; it should be taken as a sort of New Year's gift, a gift which should influence our New Year, and from now on it should work as that which we can perceive through the understanding of the Christ Impulse, in so far as this helps us to understand the words of the Elohim, which resound down to us from the starting point, from the very primeval beginning, of the creation of our Earth.
And look upon the intention of this course at the same time as the starting point of our Anthroposophical spiritual stream. This must be Anthroposophical because by means of it it will be more and more recognized how man can in himself attain to self-knowledge. He cannot yet attain to complete self-knowledge, not yet can Anthropos attain to knowledge of Anthropos, man to the knowledge of man, so long as this man can consider what he has to carry out in his own soul as an affair to be played out between him and external nature. That the world should appear to us to be immersed in matter is a thing the Gods have prepared for us, it is an affair of our own souls, a question of higher self-knowledge; it is something that man must himself recognize in his own manhood, it is a question of Anthroposophy, by means of which we can come to the perception of what theosophy may become to mankind.
It should be a feeling of the greatest modesty which impels a man to belong to the Anthroposophical movement; a modesty which says: If I want to spring over that which is an affair of the human soul and to take at once the highest step into the divine, humility may very easily vanish from me, and pride step in, in its place; vanity may easily install itself. May the Anthroposophical Society also be a starting point in this higher moral sphere; above all, may it avoid all that has so easily crept into the theosophical movement in the way of pride, vanity, ambition, and want of earnestness in receiving that which is the highest Wisdom. May the Anthroposophical Society avoid all this because from its very starting point it has already considered that the settlement with maya is an affair for the human soul itself.
One should feel that the Anthroposophical Society ought to be the result of the profoundest human modesty. For out of this modesty should well up deep earnestness as regards the sacred truths into which it will penetrate if we betake ourselves into this sphere of the supersensible, of the spiritual. Let us therefore understand the adoption of the name “Anthroposophical Society” in true modesty, in true humility, saying to ourselves: Let all that remains of that pride and lack of modesty, vanity, ambition, and untruthfulness that played a part under the name of Theosophy be eradicated, if now, under the sign and device of modesty, we begin humbly to look up to the Gods and divine wisdom, and on the other hand dutifully to study man and human wisdom, if we reverently approach Spiritual Science and dutifully devote ourselves to Anthroposophy.
This Anthroposophy will lead to the divine and to the Gods if by its help we learn in the highest sense to look humbly and truthfully into our own selves and see how we must struggle against all maya and error through self-training and the severest self-discipline. Then, as written on a bronze tablet, may there stand above us the word: Anthroposophy! Let that be an exhortation to us, that above all we should seek through it to acquire self-knowledge, modesty, and in this way endeavor to erect a building founded upon truth, for truth can only blossom if self-knowledge lays hold of the human soul in deep earnestness.
What is the origin of all vanity, of all untruth? The want of self-knowledge. From what alone can truth spring, from what can true reverence for divine worlds and divine wisdom alone come? From true self-knowledge, self-training, self-discipline. Therefore may that which shall stream and pulsate through the Anthroposophical movement serve that purpose.
For these reasons this particular course of lectures has been given at the starting point of the Anthroposophical movement, and it should prove that there is no question of narrowness, but that precisely through our movement we can extend our horizon over those distances which comprise Eastern thought also.
But let us take this humbly in self-educative anthroposophical fashion, by creating the will within us to discipline and train ourselves. If Anthroposophy, my dear friends, be taken up among you in this way, it will then lead to a beneficial end and will attain a goal that can extend to each individual and every human society for their welfare.
So let these words be spoken which shall be the last of this course of lectures, but something of which perhaps many in the coming days will take away with them in their souls, so that it may bear fruit within our Anthroposophical movement, within which you, my dear friends, have, so to speak, met together for the first time. May we ever so meet together in the sign of Anthroposophy that we have the right to call upon words with which we shall now conclude, words of humility and of self-knowledge, which we should now at this moment place as an ideal before our souls.
|"He must increase; I must decrease." — John 3:30|
|Ex Deo Nascimur In Christo Morimur Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus|