|The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A.|
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Rudolf Steiner: "Good yogis will never emerge in America. Yoga can be transplanted — but of course you can grow all kinds of plants in a greenhouse."
|Evil is ultimately in the service of the greater good|
Rudolf Steiner: "...a truth which should be engraved in the human soul as a lofty moral maxim: When you see something evil in the world, do not say, Here is evil — that is, imperfection; ask, rather, How can I attain to the enlightenment which will show me that on a higher plane this evil is transformed into good by the wisdom of the cosmos? How can I learn to tell myself: Here you see naught but imperfection because you are as yet unable to grasp the perfection of this imperfect thing? Whenever you see evil you should look into your own soul and ask yourself: Why am I not yet able to recognize the good in this evil that confronts me?"
"Wisdom is crystallized pain." — Rudolf Steiner
"Valor transposed into the spiritual, bravery transposed into the spiritual, is love." — Rudolf Steiner
"If there is something more powerful than destiny, this must be the human being who bears destiny unshaken." — Rudolf Steiner
|The world's shortest man holding the tip of a finger of the world's tallest man|
"It is through a love of fellow men (individually or collectively) that our fixed karma becomes less fixed. We are involved in their karma also, and according to the wildcard of love, we are open to possibilities that hitherto had not existed for us."
"This is not to say that we should ever go against ourselves and try to love or be loving to something which upsets us in the process. It is damaging to both the true self and that which we may ‘force’ a pretence with, should we try to go on with something our heart simply hasn’t at this time, the strength for. Love does not defer discrimination, it enhances it and sometimes may challenge us to higher reasonings, and differing determinations, from that which we have previously lived and sought for or felt obliged to."
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 2 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, December 29, 1912:
The Bhagavad Gita, the sublime Song of the Indians, is, as I mentioned yesterday, said by qualified persons to be the most important philosophic poem of humanity, and he who goes deeply into the sublime Gita will consider this expression fully justified. We shall take the opportunity given by these lectures to point out the high artistic merit of the Gita, but, above all, we must realize the importance of this poem by considering what underlies it, the mighty thoughts and wonderful knowledge of the world from which it grew, and for the glorification and spreading of which it was created. This glance into the fundamental knowledge contained in the Gita is especially important, because it is certain that all the essentials of this poem, especially all relating to thought and knowledge, are communicated to us from a pre-Buddhistic stage of knowledge, so that we may say: The spiritual horizon which surrounded the great Buddha, out of which he grew, is characterized in the contents of the Gita. When we allow these to influence us, we gaze into a spiritual condition of old Indian civilization in the pre-Buddhist age. We have already emphasized that the thought contained in the Gita is a combined outpouring of three spiritual streams, not only fused into one another, but moving and living within one another, so that they meet us in the Gita as one whole. What we there meet with as a united whole, as a spiritual outpouring of primeval Indian thought and perception, is a grand and beautiful aspect of knowledge, an immeasurable sum of spiritual knowledge; an amount of spiritual knowledge so vast that the modern man who has not yet studied Spiritual Science cannot help feeling doubts as to such an amount of knowledge and depth of science, having no possible standard with which to compare it. The ordinary modern methods do not assist one to penetrate the depths of knowledge communicated therein; at the most, one can but look upon that here spoken of as a beautiful dream which mankind once dreamt. From a merely modern standpoint one may perhaps admire this dream, but would not acknowledge it as having any scientific value. But those who have already studied Spiritual Science will stand amazed at the depths of the Gita and must admit that in primeval ages the human mind penetrated into knowledge which we can only re-acquire gradually by means of the spiritual organs which we must develop in the course of time. Their admiration is aroused for the primeval insight that existed in those past ages. We can admire it because we ourselves are able to rediscover it in the universe and thereby confirm the truth of it. When we rediscover it and recognize its truth, we then confess how wonderful it really is that in those primeval ages men were able to raise themselves to such spiritual heights! We know, to be sure, that in those old days mankind was specially favored, in that the remains of the old clairvoyance was still alive in human souls, and that not only through a spiritual meditation attained by using special exercises were men led into the spiritual worlds, but also that the science of those days could itself, in a certain sense, be penetrated by the knowledge and ideas which the remains of the old clairvoyance brought. We must confess that today we recognize, for quite other reasons, the correctness of what is there communicated to us, but we must understand that in those old times delicate distinctions as regards the being of man were arrived at by other means; ingenious conceptions were drawn from that which man was able to know: conceptions clearly outlined, which could be applied to the spiritual as also to external physical reality. So that in many respects, if we simply alter the expressions we use today to suit our different standpoint, we find it possible to understand the former standpoint also.
We have tried, in bringing forward our spiritual knowledge, to present things as they appear to the present-day clairvoyant perception; so that our sort of Spiritual Science represents that which the spiritually minded man can attain today with the means at his command. In the early days of the Theosophical Movement less was done by means of what was drawn straight from occult science than by such methods as were based on the designations and shadowy conceptions used in the East, especially those which, by means of old traditions, have been carried over from the Gita-time in the East into our present day. Hence the older form of theosophical development (to which we have now added our present method of occult investigation) worked more through the old traditionally received conceptions — especially those of the Sankhya philosophy. But just as this Sankhya philosophy itself was gradually changed in the East, through the alteration in Oriental thought, so, at the beginning of the Theosophical Movement the being of man and other secrets were spoken of and these things were specially described by means of expressions used by Shankaracharya, the great reformer of the Vedantic and other Indian knowledge in the eighth century of the Christian reckoning. We need not devote much attention to the expressions used at the beginning of the Theosophical Movement, but in order to get to the foundations of the knowledge and wisdom of the Gita, we shall devote ourselves today to the old primeval Indian wisdom. What we meet with first, what, so to speak, is drawn from that old wisdom itself, is especially to be found in the Sankhya philosophy.
We shall best obtain an understanding of how Sankhya philosophy looked upon the being and nature of man if, in the first place, we keep clearly before us the fact that there is a spiritual germ in all humanity; we have always expressed this fact by saying that in the human soul there are slumbering forces which, in the course of human evolution, will emerge more and more. The highest to which we can at present aspire and to which the human soul can attain will be what we call Spirit-Man. Even when man, as a being, has risen to the stage of Spirit-Man, he will still have to distinguish between the soul which dwells within him and that which is Spirit-Man itself; just as in everyday life today we have to distinguish between that which is our innermost soul and the sheaths which enclose it: the Astral Body, the Etheric or Life-Body, and the Physical Body. Just as we look upon these bodies as sheaths and distinguish them from the soul itself — which for the present cycle of humanity is divided into three parts: sentient soul, intellectual reasoning soul, and consciousness soul — just as we thus distinguish between the soul-nature and its system of sheaths, so in future stages we shall have to reckon with the actual soul — which will then have its threefold division fitted for those future stages and corresponding to our sentient soul, intellectual soul, and consciousness soul — and the sheath-nature, which will then have reached that stage of man which, in our terminology, we call Spirit-Man. That, however, which will some day become the human sheath, the Spirit-Man, and which will, so to say, enclose the spiritual soul-part of man, will, to be sure, only be of significance to man in the future; but that to which a being will eventually evolve is always there, in the great universe. The substance of Spirit-Man, in which we shall some day be ensheathed, has always been in the great universe and is there at the present time. We may say: Other beings have today already sheaths which will some day form our Spirit-Man; thus the substance of which the human Spirit-Man will some day consist exists in the universe. This, which our teaching allows us to state, was already known to the old Sankhya doctrine; and what thus existed in the universe, not yet individualized or differentiated, but flowing like spiritual water, undifferentiated, filling space and time, still exists, and will continue to exist; this, from which all other forms come forth, was known by the Sankhya philosophy as the highest form of substance; that form of substance which has been accepted by Sankhya philosophy as continuing from age to age. And as we speak about the beginning of the evolution of our Earth (recollect the course of lectures I once gave in Munich on the foundation of the Story of Creation), as we speak of how at the beginning of our Earth evolution all to which the Earth has now evolved was present in spirit as substantial spiritual being, so did the Sankhya philosophy speak of original substance, of a primordial flood, from which all forms, both physical and super-physical, have developed. To the man of today this highest form has not come into consideration, but the day will come, as we have shown, when it will have to be considered.
In the next form which will evolve out of this primeval flowing substance we have to recognize that which, counting from above, we know as the second principle of man, which we call Life-Spirit: or, if we like to use an Eastern expression, we may call Buddhi. Our teaching also tells us that man will only develop Buddhi in normal life at a future stage; but as a super-human spiritual form-principle it has always existed among other entities, and, inasmuch as it always existed, it was the first form differentiated from the primeval flowing substance. According to the Sankhya philosophy the super-psychic existence of Buddhi arose from the first form of substantial existence. Now if we consider the further evolution of the substantial principle, we meet as a third form that which the Sankhya philosophy calls Ahankara. Whereas Buddhi stands, so to speak, on the borders of the principle of differentiation and merely hints at a certain individualization, the form of Ahankara appears as completely differentiated already, so that when we speak of Ahankara we must imagine Buddhi as organized into independent, real, substantial forms, which then exist in the world individually. If we want to obtain a picture of this evolution we must imagine an equally distributed mass of water as the substantial primeval principle; then imagine it welling up so that separate forms emerge, but not breaking away as fully formed drops, forms which rise like little mounts of water from the common substance and yet have their basis in the common primeval flow. We should then have Buddhi; and inasmuch as these water-mounts detach themselves into drops, into independent globes, in these we have the form of Ahankara. Through a certain thickening of this Ahankara, of the already individualized form of each separate soul-form, there then arises what we describe as Manas.
Here we must admit that perhaps a little unevenness arises as regards our naming of things. In considering human evolution from the point of view of our teaching, we place (counting from above) Spirit-Self after Life-Spirit or Buddhi. This manner of designation is absolutely correct for the present cycle of humanity, and in the course of these lectures we shall see why. We do not insert Ahankara between Buddhi and Manas, but for the purpose of our concept we unite it with Manas and call both together Spirit-Self. In those old days it was quite justifiable to consider them as separate, for a reason which I shall only indicate today and later elaborate. It was justifiable because one could not then use that important characteristic that we must give if we are to make ourselves understood at the present day, the characteristic which comes on the one side from the influence of Lucifer and on the other from that of Ahriman. This characteristic is absolutely lacking in the Sankhya philosophy, and for a construction that had no occasion to look toward these two principles, because it could as yet find no trace of their force, it was quite justifiable to slip in this differentiated form between Buddhi and Manas. When we therefore speak of Manas in the sense of the Sankhya philosophy we are not speaking of quite the same thing as when we speak of it in the sense of Shankaracharya. In the latter we can perfectly identify Manas with Spirit-Self; but we cannot actually do so in the sense of Sankhya philosophy — though we can characterize quite fully what Manas is.
In this case we first start with man in the world of sense, living in the physical world. At first he lives his physical existence in such a way that he realizes his surroundings by means of his senses; and through his organs of touch, by means of his hands and feet, by handling, walking, speaking, he reacts on the physical world around him. Man realizes the surrounding world by means of his senses and he works upon it, in a physical sense, by means of his organs of touch. Sankhya philosophy is quite in accordance with this. But how does a man realize the surrounding world by means of his senses? Well, with our eyes we see the light and color, light and dark; we see, too, the shapes of things; with our ears we perceive sounds; with our organ of smell we sense perfumes; with our organs of taste we receive taste-impressions. Each separate sense is a means of realizing a particular part of the external world. The organs of sight perceive colors and light; those of hearing, sounds; and so on. We are, as it were, connected with the surrounding world through these doors of our being which we call senses; through them we open ourselves to the surrounding world; but through each separate sense we approach a particular province of that world.
Now, even our ordinary language shows us that within us we carry something like a principle which holds together these different provinces to which our senses incline. For instance, we talk of warm and cold colors, although we know that this is only a manner of speaking, and that in reality we realize cold and warmth through the organs of touch, and colors, light, and darkness through the organs of sight. Thus we speak of warm and cold colors — that is to say, from a certain inner relationship which we feel, we apply what is perceived by the one sense to the others. We express ourselves thus, because in our inner being there is a certain intermingling between what we perceive through our sight and that which we realize as a sense of warmth — more delicately sensitive people, on hearing certain sounds can inwardly realize certain ideas of color; they can speak of certain notes as representing red, and others blue. Within us, therefore, dwells something which holds the separate senses together, and makes out of the separate sense-fields something complete for the soul. If we are sensitive, we can go yet further. There are people, for instance, who feel, on entering one town, that it gives an impression of yellow; another town gives an impression of red, another of white, another of blue. A great deal of that which impresses us inwardly is transformed into a perception of color; we unite the separate sense-impressions inwardly into one collective sense which does not belong to the department of any one sense alone, but lives in our inner being and fills us with a sense of undividedness whenever we make use of any one sense-impression. We may call this the inner sense; and we may all the more call it so, inasmuch as all that we otherwise experience inwardly as sorrow and joy, emotions and affections, we unite again with that which this inner sense gives us. Certain emotions we may describe as dark and cold, others as warm and full of light. We can therefore say that our inner being reacts again upon what forms the inner sense. Therefore, as opposed to the several senses which we direct to the different provinces of the external world, we can speak of one which fills the soul; one, of which we know that it is not connected with any single sense-organ, but takes our whole being as its instrument. To describe this inner sense as Manas would be quite in harmony with Sankhya philosophy, for, according to this, that which forms this inner sense into substance develops, as a later production of form, out of Ahankara. We may, therefore, say: First came the primeval flood, then Buddhi, then Ahankara, then Manas, which latter we find within us as our inner sense. If we wish to observe this inner sense, we can do so by taking the separate senses and observing how we can form a concept by the way in which the perceptions of the separate senses are united in the inner sense.
This is the way we take today, because our knowledge is pursuing an inverted path. If we look at the development of our knowledge, we must admit that it starts from the differentiation of the separate senses and then tries to climb up to the conjoint sense. Evolution goes the other way round. During the evolution of the world, Manas first evolved out of Ahankara, and then the primeval substances differentiated themselves, the forces which form the separate senses that we carry within us. (By which we do not mean those material sense-organs which belong to the physical body, but forces which underlie these as formative forces and which are quite supersensible.) Therefore when we descend the stages of the ladder of the evolution of forms, we come down from Ahankara to Manas, according to the Sankhya philosophy; then Manas differentiates into separate forms and yields those supersensible forces which build up our separate senses. We have, therefore, the possibility — because when we consider the separate senses the soul takes a part in them — of bringing what we get out of Sankhya philosophy into line with that which our teaching contains. For Sankhya philosophy tells us the following: In that Manas has differentiated itself into the separate world-forces of the senses, the soul submerges itself — we know that the soul itself is distinct from these forms — the soul immerses itself into these different forms; but inasmuch as it does so, and also submerges itself into Manas, so it works through these sense-forces, is interwoven with and entwined in them. In so doing the soul reaches the point of placing itself as regards its spiritual soul-being in connection with an external world, in order to feel pleasure and sympathy therein. Out of Manas the force-substance has differentiated which constitutes the eye, for instance. At an earlier stage, when the physical body of man did not exist in its present form (thus Sankhya philosophy relates), the soul was immersed in the mere forces that constitute the eye. We know that the human eye of today was laid down germinally in the old Saturn time, yet only after the withdrawal of the warmth organ, which at the present day is to be found in a stunted form in the pineal gland, did it develop — that is to say, comparatively late. But the forces out of which it evolved were already there in supersensible form, and the soul lived within them. Thus Sankhya philosophy relates as follows: in so far as the soul lives in this differentiation principle, it is attached to the existence of the external world and develops a thirst for this existence. Through the forces of the senses the soul is connected with the external world; hence the inclination toward existence, and the longing for it. The soul sends, in a way, feelers out through the sense-organs, and through their forces attaches itself to the external world. This combination of forces, a real sum of forces, we unite in the astral body of man. The Sankhya philosopher speaks of the combined working of the separate sense-forces, at this stage differentiated from Manas. Again, out of these sense-forces arise the finer elements, of which we realize that the human etheric body is composed. This is a comparatively late production. We find this etheric body in man.
We must therefore picture to ourselves that in the course of evolution the following have formed: Primeval Flood, Buddhi, Ahankara, Manas, the substances of the senses, and the finer elements. In the outer world, in the kingdom of nature, these finer elements are also to be found, for instance, in the plants, as etheric or life-body. We have then to imagine, according to Sankhya philosophy, that at the basis of this whole evolution there is to be found, in every plant, a development starting from above and going downwards, which comes from the primeval flood. But in the case of the plant all takes place in the supersensible, and only becomes real in the physical world when it densifies into the finer elements which live in the etheric or life-body of the plant; while with man it is the case that the higher forms and principles already reveal themselves as Manas in his present development; the separate organs of sense reveal themselves externally. In the plant there is only to be found that late production which arises when the sense substance densifies into finer elements, into the etheric elements; and from the further densifying of the etheric elements arise the coarser elements from which spring all the physical things we meet in the physical world. Therefore reckoning upwards we can, according to Sankhya philosophy, count the human principles as coarse physical body, finer etheric body, astral body (this expression is not used in Sankhya philosophy; instead of that the formative-force body that builds the senses is used), then Manas in an inner sense, then in Ahankara the principle which underlies human individuality, which brings it about that man not only has an inner sense through which he can perceive the several regions of the senses, but also feels himself to be a separate being, an individuality. Ahankara brings this about. Then come the higher principles which in man only exist germinally: Buddhi and that which the rest of Eastern philosophy is accustomed to call Atman, which is cosmically thought of by the Sankhya philosophy as the spiritual primeval flood which we have described. Thus in the Sankhya philosophy we have a complete presentation of the constitution of man, of how man, as soul, envelopes himself in the past, present, and future, in the substantial external nature-principle, whereby not only the external visible is to be understood, but all stages of nature, up to the most invisible. Thus does the Sankhya philosophy divide the forms we have now mentioned.
In the forms — or in Prakriti, which includes all forms from the coarse physical body up to the primeval flood — dwells Purusha, the spirit-soul, which in single souls is represented as monadic; so the separate soul-monads should, so to say, be thought of as without beginning and without end, just as this material principle of Prakriti — which is not material in our materialistic sense — is also represented as being without beginning and without end. This philosophy thus presents a plurality of souls dipping down into the Prakriti principle and evolving from the highest undifferentiated form of the primeval flood, in which they enclose themselves, down to the embodiment in a coarse physical body, in order, then, to turn back and, after overcoming the physical body, to evolve upwards again; to return back again into the primeval flood, and to free themselves even from this, in order to be able as free souls to withdraw into pure Purusha.
If we allow this sort of knowledge to influence us we see how, underlying it, so to speak, was that old wisdom which we now endeavor to reacquire by the means which our soul-meditations can give us; and in accordance with the Sankhya philosophy we see that there is insight even into the manner in which each of these form principles may be united with the soul. The soul may, for instance, be so connected with Buddhi that it realizes its full independence, as it were, while within Buddhi; so that not Buddhi but the soul-nature makes itself felt in a predominating degree. The opposite may also be the case: the soul may enwrap its independence in a sort of sleep, envelop it in lassitude and idleness, so that the sheath-nature is most prominent. This may also be the case with the external physical nature consisting of coarse substance. Here we only need to observe human beings. There may be a man who preferably cultivates his soul and spirit, so that every movement, every gesture, every look which can be communicated by means of the coarse physical body, is of secondary importance compared to the fact that in him the spiritual and soul-nature are expressed. Before us stands a man — we see him certainly in the coarse, physical body that stands before us — but in his movements, gestures, and looks there is something that makes us say: This man is wholly spiritual and psychic; he only uses the physical principle to give expression to this. The physical principle does not overpower him; on the contrary, he is everywhere the conqueror of the physical principle. This condition, in which the soul is master of the external sheath-principle, is the Sattva condition. This Sattva condition may exist in connection with the relation of the soul to Buddhi and Manas as well as in that of the soul to the body which consists of fine and coarse elements. For if one says: The soul lives in Sattva, that means nothing but a certain relation of the soul to its envelope, of the spiritual principle of that soul to the nature-principle: the relation of the Purusha-principle to the Prakriti-principle. We may also see a man whose coarse physical body quite dominates him — we are not now speaking of moral characteristics, but of pure characteristics, such as are understood in Sankhya philosophy and which do not, seen with spiritual eyes, bear any moral characteristic whatever. We may meet a man who, so to speak, walks about under the weight of his physical body, who puts on much flesh, whose whole appearance is influenced by the weight of his physical body, to whom it is difficult to express the soul in his external physical body. When we move the muscles of our face in harmony with the speaking of the soul, the Sattva principle is master; when quantities of fat imprint a special physiognomy to our faces, the soul-principle is then overpowered by the external sheath principle, and the soul bears the relation of Tamas to the nature principle. When there is a balance between these two states, when neither the soul has the mastery as in the Sattva state, nor the external sheath-nature as in the Tamas condition, when both are equally balanced, that may be called the Rajas condition. These are the three Gunas, which are quite specially important. We must, therefore, distinguish the characteristic of the separate forms of Prakriti. From the highest principle of the undifferentiated primeval substance down to the coarse physical body is the one characteristic, the characteristic of the mere sheath principle. From this we must distinguish what belongs to the Sankhya philosophy in order to characterize the relation of the soul nature to the sheaths, regardless of what the form of the sheath may be. This characteristic is given through the three states Sattva, Rajas, Tamas.
We will now bring before our minds the penetrating depths of such a knowledge and realize how deep an insight into the secrets of existence a science must have had which was able to give such a comprehensive description of all living beings. Then that admiration fills our souls of which we spoke before, and we tell ourselves that it is one of the most wonderful things in the history of the development of man that that which appears again today in Spiritual Science out of dark spiritual depths should have already existed in those ancient times, when it was obtained by different methods. All this knowledge once existed, my dear friends. We perceive it when we direct the spiritual gaze to certain primeval times. Then let us look at the succeeding ages. We gaze upon what is generally brought to our notice in the spiritual life of the different periods, in the old Greek age, in the age following that, the Roman age, and in the Christian Middle Ages. We turn our gaze from what the older cultures give down to modern times, till we come to the age when Spiritual Science once again brings us something which grew in the primeval knowledge of mankind. When we survey all this we may say: In our time we often lack even the smallest glimmering of that primeval knowledge. Ever more and more a mere knowledge of external material existence is taking the place of the knowledge of that grand sphere of existence and of the supersensible, all-embracing old perception. It was indeed the purpose of evolution for three thousand years, that in the place of the old primeval perception the external knowledge of the material physical plane should arise. It is interesting to see how upon the material plane alone — I do not want to withhold this remark from you — there still remains, left behind, as it were, in the age of Greek philosophy, something like an echo of the old Sankhya knowledge. We can still find in Aristotle some echoes of real soul-nature; but these in all their perfect clarity can no longer be properly connected with the old Sankhya knowledge. We even find in Aristotle the distribution of the human being within the coarse physical body; he does not exactly mention this, but shapes a distribution in which he believes he gives the soul-part, whereas the Sankhya philosophy knows that this is only the sheaths; we find there the vegetative soul, which in the sense of the Sankhya philosophy would be attributed to the finer elemental body. Aristotle believes himself to be describing something pertaining to the soul; but he only describes connections between the soul and the body, the Gunas, and in what he describes he gives but the form of the sheaths. Then Aristotle ascribes to that which reaches out into the sphere of the senses, and which we call the astral body, something which he distinguishes as being a soul-principle. Thus he no longer clearly distinguishes the soul-part from the bodily, because, to him, the former has already been swamped by the bodily shape; he distinguishes the Asthetikon, and in the soul he further distinguishes the Orektikon, Kinetikon, and the Dianetikon. These, according to Aristotle, are grades of the soul — but we no longer find in him a clear discrimination between the soul-principle and its sheaths; he believes he is giving a classification of the soul, whereas the Sankhya philosophy grasps the soul in its own being as a monad and all the differentiations of the soul are, as it were, at once placed in the sheath-principle, in the Prakriti principle.
Therefore even Aristotle himself in speaking of the soul part no longer speaks of that primeval knowledge which we discover in the Sankhya philosophy. But in one domain, the domain of the material, Aristotle still has something to relate which is like a surviving echo of the principle of the three conditions; that is, when he speaks of light and darkness in colors. He says: There are some colors which have more darkness in them and others which have more light, and there are colors between these. According to Aristotle, in the colors ranging between blue and violet the darkness predominates over light. Thus a color is blue or violet because darkness predominates over light, and it is green or greenish-yellow when light and darkness counterbalance each other, while a color is reddish or orange when the light-principle overrules the dark. In Sankhya philosophy we have this principle of the three conditions for the whole compass of the world-phenomena; there we have Sattva when the spiritual predominates over the natural. Aristotle still has this same characteristic, in speaking of colors. He does not use these words: but one may say: Red and reddish-yellow represent the Sattva condition of light. This manner of expression is no longer to be found in Aristotle, but the principle of the old Sankhya philosophy is still to be found in him; green represents the Rajas condition as regards light and darkness, and blue and violet, in which darkness predominates, represent the Tamas-condition of light and darkness. Even though Aristotle does not make use of these expressions, the train of thought can still be traced which arises from that spiritual grasp of the world conditions which we meet with in the Sankhya philosophy. In the color teaching of Aristotle we have therefore an echo of the old Sankhya philosophy. But even this echo was lost, and we first experience a glimmering of these three conditions, Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, in the external domain of the world of color in the hard struggle carried on by Goethe. For after the old Aristotelian division of the color-world into a Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas condition had been entirely buried, so to say, it then reappears in Goethe. At the present time it is still abused by modern physicists, but the color-system of Goethe is produced from principles of spiritual wisdom. The physicist of today is right from his own standpoint when he does not agree with Goethe over this — but he only proves that in this respect physics has been abandoned by all the good Gods! That is the case with the physics of today, which is why it grumbles at Goethe's color teaching.
If one wished today really to combine science with occult principles one would, however, be obliged to support the color theory of Goethe. For in that we find again, in the very center of our scientific culture, the principle which once upon a time reigned as the spiritual principle of the Sankhya philosophy. You can understand, my dear friends, why many years ago I set myself the task of bringing Goethe's color theory again into notice as a physical science, resting, however, upon occult principles; for one may quite relevantly say that Goethe so divides the color phenomena that he represents them according to the three states of Sattva, Rajas, Tamas. So gradually there emerges into the new spiritual history discovered by the modern methods that which mankind attained to once upon a time by quite other means.
The Sankhya philosophy is pre-Buddhistic, as the legend of Buddha brings very clearly before our eyes; for it relates, and rightly, the Indian doctrine that Kapila was the founder of the Sankhya philosophy. Buddha was born in the dwelling place of Kapila, in Kapila Vastu, whereby it is indicated that Buddha grew up under the Sankhya teaching. Even by his very birth he was placed where once worked the one who first gathered together this great Sankhya philosophy. We have to picture to ourselves this Sankhya doctrine in its relation to the other spiritual currents of which we have spoken, not as many Orientalists of the present day represent it, nor as does the Jesuit, Joseph Dahlmann; but that in different parts of ancient India there lived men who were differentiated, for at the time when these three spiritual currents were developing, the very first primeval state of human evolution was no longer there. For instance, in the northeastern part of India human nature was such that it inclined to the conceptions given in the Sankhya philosophy; more towards the West, human nature was of that kind that it inclined to conceive of the world according to the Veda doctrine. The different spiritual “nuances” come, therefore, from, the differently gifted human nature in the different parts of India; and only because of the Vedantists later on having worked on further and made many things familiar, do we find in the Vedas at the present time much of Sankhya philosophy bound up with them. Yoga, the third spiritual current, arose, as we have often pointed out, because the old clairvoyance had gradually diminished, and one had to seek new ways to the spiritual worlds. Yoga is distinguished from Sankhya in that the latter is a real science, a science of external forms, which really only grasps these forms and the different relations of the human soul to these forms. Yoga shows how souls can develop so as to reach the spiritual worlds.
And if we ask ourselves what an Indian soul was to do who at a comparatively later time wanted to develop, though not in a one-sided way, who did not wish to advance by the mere consideration of external form but wanted to uplift the soul-nature itself, so as to evolve again that which was originally given as by a gracious illumination in the Vedas — to this we find the answer in what Krishna gave to his pupil Arjuna in the sublime Gita. Such a soul would have to go through a development which might be expressed in the following words: “Yes, it is true thou seest the world in its external forms, and if thou art permeated with the knowledge of Sankhya thou wilt see how these forms have developed out of the primeval flow: but thou canst also see how one form changes into another. Thy vision can follow the arising and the disappearing of forms; thine eyes see their birth and their death. But if thou considerest thoroughly how one form replaces another, how form after form arises and vanishes, thou art led to consider what is expressed in all these forms; a thorough inquiry will lead thee to the spiritual principle which expresses itself in all these forms; sometimes more according to the Sattva condition, at other times more after the forms of the other Gunas, but which again liberates itself from these forms. A thorough consideration such as this will direct thee to something permanent, which, as compared to form, is everlasting. The material principle is indeed also permanent, it remains; but the forms which thou seest, arise and fade away again, pass through birth and death; but the element of the soul and spirit nature remains. Direct thy glance to that! But in order that thou shouldst thyself experience this psychic-spiritual element within thee and around thee and feel it one with thyself, thou must develop the slumbering forces in thy soul, thou must yield thyself to Yoga, which begins with devotional looking upwards to the psychic-spiritual element of being, and which, by the use of certain exercises, leads to the development of these slumbering forces, so that the pupil rises from one stage to another by means of Yoga.” Devotional reverence for the psychic-spiritual is the other way which leads the soul itself forwards; it leads to that which lives as unity in the spiritual element behind the changing forms which the Veda once upon a time announced through grace and illumination, and which the soul will again find through Yoga as that which is to be looked for behind all the changing forms. “Therefore go thou,” thus might a great teacher have said to his pupil, “go thou through the knowledge of the Sankhya philosophy, of forms, of the Gunas, through the study of Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, through the forms from the highest down to the coarsest substance; go through these, making use of thy reason, and admit that there must be something permanent, something that is uniting, and then wilt thou penetrate to the Eternal. Thou canst also start in thy soul through devotion; then thou wilt push on through Yoga from stage to stage, and wilt reach the spiritual which is at the base of all forms. Thou canst approach the spiritual from two different sides: by a thoughtful contemplation of the world, or by Yoga; both will lead thee to that which the great teacher of the Vedas describes as the Unitary Atman-Brahman, that lives as well in the outer world as in the inmost part of the soul, that which as Unity is the basis of the world. Thou wilt attain to that on the one hand by dwelling on the Sankhya philosophy, and on the other by going through Yoga in a devotional frame of mind.”
Thus we look back upon those old times in which, so to speak, clairvoyant force was still united with human nature through the blood, as I have shown in my pamphlet "The Occult Significance of Blood." But mankind gradually advanced in its evolution, from that principle which was bound up in the blood to that which consisted of the psychic-spiritual. In order that the connection with the psychic-spiritual should not be lost, which was so easily attained in the old times of the blood-relationship of family stock and peoples, new methods had to be found, new ways of teaching, during the period of transition from blood-relationship to that period in which it no longer held sway. The sublime song of the Bhagavad Gita leads us to this time of transition. It relates how the descendants of the royal brothers of the lines of Kuru and Pandu fought together. On the one side we look up to a time which was already past when the story of the Gita begins, a time in which the Old-Indian perception still existed and men still went on living in accordance with that. We can perceive, so to say, the one line which arose out of the old times being carried over into the new, in the blind King Dritarashtra of the house of Kuru; and we see him in conversation with his chariot-driver. He stands by the fighters of one side; on the other side are those who are related to him by blood but who are fighting because they are in a state of transition from the old times to the new. These are the sons of Pandu; and the charioteer tells his king (who is characteristically described as blind, because it is not the spiritual that shall descend from this root but the physical), the charioteer relates to his blind king what is happening over there among the sons of Pandu, to whom is to pass all that is more of a psychic and spiritual nature for the generations yet to come. He relates how Arjuna, the representative of the fighters, is instructed by the great Krishna, the Teacher of mankind; he relates how Krishna taught his pupil, Arjuna, about all that of which we have just been speaking, of what man can attain if he uses Sankhya and Yoga, if he develops thinking and devotion in order to press on to that which the great teachers of mankind of former days have described in the Vedas. And we are told in glorious language, as philosophical as it is poetical, of the instructions given through Krishna, through the Great Teacher of the humanity of the new ages which have emerged from the blood-relationship. Thus we find something else shining from those old times across to our own. In that consideration which is the basis of the pamphlet "The Occult Significance of Blood," and many similar ones, I have indicated how the evolution of mankind after the time of blood-relationship took on other differentiations, and how the striving of the soul has thus become different too. In the sublime song of the Bhagavad Gita we are led directly to this transition; we are so led that we see by the instructions given to Arjuna by Krishna how man, to whom no longer belongs the old clairvoyance dependent upon the blood-relationship, must press on to what is eternal. In this teaching we encounter that which we have often spoken of as an important transition in the evolution of mankind, and the Sublime Song becomes to us an illustration of that which we arrived at by a separate study of the subject.
What attracts us particularly to the Bhagavad Gita is the clear and emphatic way in which the path of man is spoken of, the path man has to tread from the temporary to the permanent. There at first Arjuna stands before us, full of trouble in his soul; we can hear that in the tale of the charioteer (for all that is related comes from the mouth of the charioteer of the blind king). Arjuna stands before us with his trouble-laden soul; he sees himself fighting against the Kurus, his blood-relations, and he says now to himself: “Must I then fight against those who are linked to me by blood, those who are the sons of my father's brothers? There are many heroes among us who must turn their weapons against their own relations, and on the opposite side there are just as honorable heroes, who must direct their weapons against us.” He was sore troubled in his soul “Can I win this battle? Ought I to win, ought one brother to raise his sword against another?” Then Krishna comes to him, the Great Teacher Krishna, and says: “First of all, give thoughtful consideration to human life and consider the case in which thou thyself now art. In the bodies of those against whom thou art to fight and who belong to the Kuru-line, that is to say, in temporal forms, there live soul-beings who are eternal; they only express themselves in these forms. In those who are thy fellow-combatants dwell eternal souls, who only express themselves through the forms of the external world. You will have to fight, for thus your laws ordain; it is ordained by the working laws of the external evolution of mankind. You will have to fight; thus it is ordained by the moment which indicates the passing from one period to another. But shouldst thou mourn on that account, because one form fights against another, one changing form struggles with another changing form? Whichsoever of these forms are to lead the others into death — what is death? and what is life? The changing of the forms is death, and it is life. The souls that are to be victorious are similar to those who are now about to go to their death. What is this victory, what is this death, compared to that to which a thoughtful consideration of Sankhya leads thee, compared to the eternal souls, opposing one another yet remaining themselves undisturbed by all battles?” In magnificent manner out of the situation itself we are shown that Arjuna must not allow himself to be disturbed by soul-trouble in his innermost being, but must do his duty which now calls him to battle; he must look beyond the transitory which is entangled in the battle to the eternal which lives on, whether as conqueror or as conquered. And so in a unique way is the great note struck in the sublime song, in the Bhagavad Gita, the great note concerning an important event in the evolution of mankind, the note of the transitory and of the everlasting.
Not by abstract thought, but by allowing the perception of what is contained in this to influence us, shall we find ourselves upon the right path. For we are on the right path when we so look upon the instructions of Krishna as to see that he is trying to raise the soul of Arjuna from the stage at which it stands, in which it is entangled in the net of the transitory. Krishna tries to raise it to a higher stage, in which it will feel itself uplifted beyond all that is transitory, even when that comes directly to the soul in such distressing manner as in victory or defeat, as giving death or suffering it. We can truly see the proof of that which someone once said about this Eastern philosophy, as it presents itself to us in the sublime poem of the Bhagavad Gita: “This Eastern philosophy is so absolutely part of the religion of those old times that he who belonged to it, however great and wise he might be, was not without the deepest religious fervor, whilst the simplest man, who only lived the religion of feeling, was not without a certain amount of wisdom.” We feel this, when see we how the great teacher, Krishna, not only influences the ideas of his pupil, but works directly into his disposition, so that he appears to us as contemplating the transitory and the troubles belonging to the transitory; and in such a significant situation we see his soul rising to a height from which it soars far beyond all that is transitory, beyond all the troubles, pain, and sorrows of the transitory.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 1 of 5.
Rudolf Steiner, December 28, 1912:
Rudolf Steiner, December 28, 1912:
We stand today, as it were, at the starting-point of the foundation of the Anthroposophical Society in the narrower sense, and we should take this opportunity of once more reminding ourselves of the importance and significance of our cause. It is true that what the Anthroposophical Society wishes to be for the newer culture should not in principle differentiate it from that which we have always carried on in our circle under the name of theosophy. But perhaps this giving of a new name may nevertheless remind us of the earnestness and dignity with which we intend to work in our spiritual movement, and it is with this point in view that I have chosen the title of this course of lectures. At the very outset of our anthroposophical cause we shall speak on a subject which is capable of indicating in manifold ways the remarkable importance of our spiritual movement for the civilization of the present day.Many people might be surprised to find two such apparently widely different spiritual streams brought together, as the great Eastern poem of the Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of one who was so closely connected with the founding of Christianity, the Apostle Paul. We can best recognize the nearness of these two spiritual streams to one another if, by way of introduction, we indicate how at the present day is to be found, on the one hand, that which appertains to the great Bhagavad Gita poem, and on the other the Paulinism which originated with the beginning of Christianity.
Certainly much in the spiritual life of our present time differs from what it was even a comparatively short time ago, but it is just that very difference that makes a spiritual movement such as Anthroposophy so necessary.
Let us reflect how a comparatively short time ago if a man concerned himself with the spiritual life of his own times he had in reality, as I have shown in my Basle and Munich courses, to study three periods of a thousand years each; one pre-Christian period of a thousand years, and two other millennia, the sum of which is not yet quite completed; two thousand years permeated and saturated with the spiritual stream of Christianity. What might such a man have said only a short time ago when contemplating the spiritual life of mankind when, as we have said, there was no question of a theosophical or anthroposophical movement as we now understand it? He might have said: “At the present time something is making itself prominently felt which can only be sought for in the thousand years preceding the Christian era.” For only during the last thousand years before the Christian era does one find individual men of personal importance in spiritual life. However great and powerful and mighty much in the spiritual streams of earlier times may appear to us, yet persons and individuals do not stand out from that which underlies those streams. Let us just glance back at what we reckon in not too restricted a sense as the last thousand years before the Christian era. Let us glance back at the old Egyptian or the Chaldean-Babylonian spiritual stream; there we survey a continuity so to speak, a connected spiritual life. Only in the Greek spiritual life do we find individuals as such standing out as entirely spiritual and living. Great, mighty teachings, a mighty outlook into the space of the Cosmos; all this we find in the old Egyptian and Chaldean-Babylonian times, but only in Greece do we begin to look to separate personalities, to a Socrates or Pericles, a Phidias, a Plato, an Aristotle. Personality, as such, begins to be marked. That is the peculiarity of the spiritual life of the last three thousand years; and I do not only mean the remarkable personalities themselves, but rather the impression made by the spiritual life upon each separate individuality, upon each personality. In these last three thousand years it has become a question of personality, if we may say so; and the fact that separate individuals now feel the need of taking part in the spiritual life, find inner comfort, hope, peace, inward bliss, and security in the various spiritual movements, gives these their significance. And since, until a comparatively short time ago, we were only interested in history inasmuch as it proceeded from one personality to another, we got no really clear understanding of what occurred before the last three thousand years. The history for which alone we had, till recently, any understanding, began with Greece, and during the transition from the first to the second thousand years, occurred what is connected with the great Being, Christ Jesus. During the first thousand years that which we owe to Greece is predominant, and those Grecian times tower forth in a particular way. At the beginning of them stand the Mysteries. That which flowed forth from these, as we have often described, passed over into the Greek poets, philosophers, and artists in every domain. For if we wish rightly to understand Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides we must seek the source for such understanding in that which flowed out of the Mysteries. If we wish to understand Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, we must seek the source of their philosophies in the Mysteries, not to speak of such a towering figure as that of Heraclitus. You may read of him in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact, how entirely he depended upon the Mysteries.
Then in the second thousand years we see the Christian impulse pouring into spiritual development, gradually absorbing the Greek and uniting itself with it. The whole of the second thousand years passed in such a way that the powerful Christ-impulse united itself with all that came over from Greece as living tradition and life. So we see Greek wisdom, Greek feeling, and Greek art slowly and gradually uniting organically with the Christ-impulse. Thus the second thousand years ran its course. Then in the third thousand years begins the cultivation of the personality. We may say that we can see in the third thousand years how differently the Greek influence is felt. We see it when we consider such artists as Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. No longer does the Greek influence work on together with Christianity in the third thousand years, as it did in the culture of the second; not as something historically great, not as something contemplated externally was Greek influence felt during the second thousand years. But in the third thousand we have to turn of set purpose to the Greek. We see how Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Raphael allowed themselves to be influenced by the great works of art then being discovered; we see the Greek influence being more and more consciously absorbed. It was absorbed unconsciously during the second thousand years, but in the third millennium it was taken up more and more consciously. An example of how consciously this Greek influence was being recognized in the eyes of the world is to be found in the figure of the philosopher Thomas Aquinas; and how he was compelled to unite what flowed out from Christian philosophy with the philosophy of Aristotle. Here the Greek influence was absorbed consciously and united with Christianity in a philosophic form; as in the case of Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci in the form of art. This whole train of thought rises higher through spiritual life, and even takes the form of a certain religious opposition in the cases of Giordano Bruno and Galileo. Notwithstanding all this, we find everywhere Greek ideas and conceptions, especially about nature, cropping up again; there is a conscious absorption of the Greek influence, but this does not go back beyond the Greek age. In every soul, not only in the more learned or more highly educated, but in every soul down to the simplest, a spiritual life is spread abroad and lives in them, in which the Greek and Christian influences are consciously united. From the University down to the peasant's cottage Greek ideas are to be found united with Christianity.
Now in the nineteenth century something peculiar appeared, something which requires Anthroposophy to explain it. There we see in one single example what mighty forces are at play. When the wonderful poem of the Bhagavad Gita first became known in Europe, certain important thinkers were enraptured by the greatness of the poem, by its profound contents; and it should never be forgotten that such a thoughtful spirit as William von Humboldt, when he became acquainted with it, said that it was the most profoundly philosophical poem that had ever come under his notice; and he made the beautiful remark, that it was worth while to have been allowed to grow as old as he to be enabled to become acquainted with the Bhagavad Gita, the great spiritual song that sounds forth from the primeval holy times of Eastern antiquity. What a wonderful thing it is that slowly, although perhaps not attractive as yet to large circles, so much of Eastern antiquity was poured out into the nineteenth century by means of the Bhagavad Gita. For this is not like other writings that came over from the ancient East which ever proclaim Eastern thoughts and feelings from this or that standpoint. In the Bhagavad Gita we are confronted with something of which we may say that it is the united flow of all the different points of view of Eastern thought, feeling, and perception. That is what makes it of such significance.
Now let us turn back to old India. Apart from other less important things, we find there, in the first place, three shades, if we may so call them, of spiritual streams flowing forth from the old Indian pre-historic times. That spiritual stream which we meet with in the earliest Vedas, and which developed further in the later Vedantic poems, is one quite definite one — we will describe it presently — it is, if we may say so, a one-sided yet quite distinct spiritual stream. We then meet with a second spiritual stream in the Sankhya philosophy, which again goes in a definite spiritual direction; and, lastly, we meet a third shade of the Eastern spiritual stream in Yoga. Here we have the three most remarkable Oriental spiritual streams placed before our souls: The Vedas, Sankhya, and Yoga.
The Sankhya system of Kapila, the Yoga philosophy of Patanjali, and the Vedas are spiritual streams of definite coloring, which, because of this definite coloring, are to a certain extent one-sided, and which are great because of their one-sidedness. In the Bhagavad Gita we have the harmonious inter-penetration of all three spiritual streams. What the Veda philosophy has to give is to be found shining forth in the Bhagavad Gita; what the Yoga of Patanjali has to give mankind we find again in the Bhagavad Gita; and what the Sankhya of Kapila has to give we find there too. Moreover, we do not find these as a conglomeration, but as three parts flowing harmoniously into one organism, as if they originally belonged together. The greatness of the Bhagavad Gita lies in the comprehensiveness of its description of how this Oriental spiritual life receives its tributaries from the Vedas on the one side, on another from the Sankhya philosophy of Kapila, and again on a third side from the Yoga of Patanjali.
We shall now briefly characterize what each of these spiritual streams has to give us.
The Veda stream is most emphatically a philosophy of unity; it is the most spiritual monism that could be thought of; the Veda philosophy which is consolidated in the Vedanta is a spiritual monism. If we wish to understand the Veda philosophy, we must, in the first place, keep clearly before our souls the fact that this philosophy is based upon the thought that man can find something deeper within his own self, and that what he first realizes in ordinary life is a kind of expression or imprint of this self of his; that man can develop, and that his development will draw up the depths of the actual self more and more from the foundations of his soul. A higher self rests as though asleep in man, and this higher self is not that of which the present-day man is directly aware, but that which works within him, and to which he must develop himself. When man some day attains to that which lives within him as “self,” he will then realize, according to the Veda philosophy, that this “self” is one with the all-embracing self of the world, that he does not only rest with his self within the all-embracing World-Self, but that he himself is one with it. So much is he one with this World-Self that he is in twofold manner related to it. In some way similar to our physical in-breathing and out-breathing does the Vedantist picture the relationship of the human self to the World-Self. Just as one draws in a breath and breathes it out again, while outside there is the universal air and within us only the small portion of it that we have drawn in, so outside us we have the universal, all-embracing, all-pervading Self that lives and moves in all things, and this we breathe in when we yield ourselves to the contemplation of the spiritual Self of the World. Spiritually one breathes it in with every perception that one gets of this Self, one breathes it in with all that one draws into one's soul. All knowledge, all thinking, all perception is spiritual breathing; and that which we, as a portion of the world-Self, draw into our souls (which portion remains organically united to the whole), that is Atman, the Breath, which, as regards ourselves, is as the portion of air that we breathe in, which cannot be distinguished from the general atmosphere. So is Atman in us, which cannot be distinguished from that which is the all-ruling Self of the World. Just as we breathe out physically, so there is a devotion of the soul through which the best that is in it goes forth in the form of prayer and sacrifice to this Self. Brahman is like the spiritual out-breathing. Atman and Brahman, like in-breathing and out-breathing, make us sharers in the all-ruling World-Self. What we find in Vedanta is a monistic spiritual philosophy, which is at the same time a religion; and the blossom and fruit of Vedantism lie in that which so blesses man, that most complete and in the highest degree satisfying feeling of unity with the universal Self powerfully weaving through the world. Vedantism treats of this connection of mankind with the unity of the world, of the fact of man's being within a part of the whole great spiritual cosmos. We can say the Veda-Word, because Veda means Word: the Word, the Veda, as given is itself breathed forth, according to the Vedantic conception, from the all-ruling unitary Being, and the human soul can take it into itself as the highest expression of knowledge. In accepting the Veda, the Word, the best part of the all-mighty “Self” is taken in; the consciousness of the connection between the individual human self and this all-mighty World-Self is attained. What the Veda speaks is the Word of God, which is creative, and is born again in human knowledge. Thus, human knowledge is joined with the creative, permeating principle underlying existence. Therefore, that which was written in the Vedas was considered the Divine Word, and those who were filled with it were the possessors of the Divine Word. The Divine Word had come spiritually into the world and was to be found in the Vedic books; those who mastered these books took part in the creative principle of the world.
Sankhya philosophy is different. When one first meets with this, as it has come down to us through tradition, we find in it exactly the opposite of a teaching of unity. If we wish to compare the Sankhya philosophy to anything, we may compare it to the philosophy of Leibnitz. It is a pluralistic philosophy. The several souls mentioned therein — human souls and the souls of Gods — are not traced back by the Sankhya philosophy to unitary source, but are taken as single souls existing, so to speak, from eternity; or, at any rate, their origin is not traced back to unity. The plurality of souls is what we find in the Sankhya philosophy. The independence of each individual soul, carrying on its development in the world enclosed within its own being, is sharply accentuated.
Against this pluralism stands what Sankhya philosophy calls the prakriti element. We cannot well describe this by the modern word “matter,” for that has a materialistic meaning. But in Sankhya philosophy we do not mean to convey this materialistic meaning when using the term prakriti, “the substantial,” which is in contrast to the multiplicity of souls, and which again is not derived from a common source. In the first place, we have multiplicity of souls, and then that which we may call "the substantial," the basis of the material, which, like a primeval flood, streams through the world, through space and time, and out of which souls take the elements for their outer existence. Souls must clothe themselves in this material element, which, again, is not to be traced back to unity with the souls themselves.
And so it is in the Sankhya philosophy that we principally find this material element, carefully studied. Attention is not so much directed to the individual soul; this is taken as something real that is there, confined in and united with this material basis, and which takes the most varied forms within it, and thus shows itself outwardly in many different forms. A soul clothes itself with this original material element, that may be thought of like the individual soul itself as coming from Eternity. The soul nature expresses itself through this material basic element, and in so doing it takes on many different forms, and it is in particular the study of these material forms that we find in the Sankhya philosophy.
Here we have, in the first place, so to speak, the original form of this material element as a sort of spiritual primeval stream, into which the soul is first immersed. Thus if we were to glance back at the first stages of evolution, we should find there the undifferentiated material elements and immersed therein, the plurality of the souls which are to evolve further. What, therefore, we first find as Form, as yet undifferentiated from the unity of the primal stream, is the spiritual substance itself that lies at the starting-point of evolution.
The first thing that then emerges, with which the soul can as yet clothe itself individually, is Buddhi. So that when we picture to ourselves a soul clothed with the primal flood-substance, externally this soul is not to be distinguished from the universal moving and weaving element of the primeval flood. Inasmuch as the soul does not only enwrap itself in this first being of the universal billowing primal flood but also in that which first proceeds from this, in so far does it clothe itself in Buddhi.
The third element that forms itself out of the whole and through which the soul can then become more and more individual, is Ahankara. This consists of lower and lower forms of the primeval substance.
So that we have the primeval substance, the first form of which is Buddhi, and its second form which is Ahankara. The next form to that is Manas; then comes the form which consists of the organs of the senses; this is followed by the form of the finer elements; and the last form consists of the elements of the substances which we have in our physical surroundings. This is the line of evolution according to Sankhya philosophy. Above is the most supersensible element, a primeval spiritual flow, which, growing ever denser and denser, descends to that which surrounds us in the coarser elements out of which the coarse human body is also constructed. Between these are the substances of which, for instance, our sense organs are woven, and the finer elements of which is woven our etheric or life-body. It must be carefully noticed that according to the Sankhya philosophy, all these are sheaths of the soul. Even that which springs from the first primeval flood is a sheath for the soul; the soul is at first within that; and when the Sankhya philosopher studies Buddhi, Ahankara, Manas, the senses, the finer and the coarser elements, he understands thereby the increasingly dense sheaths within which the soul expresses itself.
We must clearly understand that the manner in which the philosophy of the Vedas and the Sankhya philosophy are presented to us is only possible because they were composed in that ancient time when an old clairvoyance still existed, at any rate to a certain extent. The Vedas and the contents of the Sankhya philosophy came into existence in different ways. The Vedas depend throughout on a primeval inspiration which was still a natural possession of primeval man; they were given to man, so to speak, without his having done anything to deserve them, except that with his whole being he prepared himself to receive into his inner depths that divine inspiration that came of itself to him, and to receive it quietly and calmly. Sankhya philosophy was formed in a different way. That process was something like the learning of our present day, only that this is not permeated by clairvoyance as the former then was. The Veda philosophy consisted of clairvoyant knowledge, inspiration given as by grace from above. Sankhya philosophy consisted of knowledge sought for as we seek it now, but sought for by people to whom clairvoyance was still accessible. This is why the Sankhya philosophy leaves the actual soul element undisturbed, so to say. It admits that souls can impress themselves in that which one can study as the supersensible outer forms, but it particularly studies the outer forms, which appear as the clothing of those souls. Hence we find a complete system of the forms we meet with in the world, just as in our own science we find a number of facts about nature; only that in Sankhya philosophy observation extends to a clairvoyant observation of facts. Sankhya philosophy is a science, which although obtained by clairvoyance, is nevertheless a science of outer forms that does not extend into the sphere of the soul: the soul-nature remains in a sense undisturbed by these studies. He who devotes himself to the Vedas feels absolutely that his religious life is one with the life of wisdom; but Sankhya philosophy is a science, it is a perception of the forms into which the soul impresses itself. Nevertheless, it is quite possible for the disciples of the Sankhya philosophy to feel a religious devotion of the soul for their philosophy.
The way in which the soul element is organized into forms — not the soul element itself, but the form it takes — is followed up in the Sankhya philosophy. It defines the way in which the soul, more or less, preserves its individuality or else is more immersed in the material. It has to do with the soul element which is, it is true, beneath the surface, but which, within the material forms, still preserves itself as soul. A soul element thus disguised in outer form, but which reveals itself as soul, dwells in the Sattva element. A soul element immersed in form, but which is, so to say, entangled in it and cannot emerge from it, dwells in the Tamas element; and that in which, more or less, the soul element and its outer expression in form are, to a certain extent, balanced, dwells in the Rajas element. Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, the three Gunas, pertain to the essential characteristics of what we know as Sankhya philosophy.
Quite different, again, is that spiritual stream which comes down to us as Yoga. That appeals directly to the soul element itself and seeks ways and means of grasping the human soul in direct spiritual life, so that it rises from the point which it has attained in the world to higher and higher stages of soul-being. Thus Sankhya is a contemplation of the sheaths of the soul, and Yoga the guidance of the soul to higher and ever higher stages of inner experience. To devote oneself to Yoga means a gradual awakening of the higher forces of the soul so that it experiences something not to be found in everyday life, which opens the door to higher and higher stages of existence.
Yoga is therefore the path to the spiritual worlds, the path to the liberation of the soul from outer forms, the path to an independent life of the soul within itself. Yoga is the other side of the Sankhya philosophy. Yoga acquired its great importance when that inspiration, which was given as a blessing from above and which inspired the Vedas, was no longer able to come down. Yoga had to be made use of by those souls who, belonging to a later epoch of mankind, could no longer receive anything by direct revelation, but were obliged to work their way up to the heights of spiritual existence from the lower stages. Thus in the old primal Indian times we have three sharply-defined streams, the Vedas, the Sankhya, and the Yoga, and today we are called upon once more to unite these spiritual streams, so to say, by bringing them to the surface in the way proper for our own age, from the foundations of the soul and from the depths of the Cosmos.
You may find all three streams again in our Spiritual Science. If you read what I have tried to place before you in the first chapters of my Occult Science about the human constitution, about sleeping and waking, life and death, you will find there what in our present-day sense we may call Sankhya philosophy. Then read what is there said about the evolution of the world from Saturn down to our own time, and you have the Veda philosophy expressed for our own age; while, if you read the last chapters, which deal with human evolution, you have Yoga expressed for our own age. Our age must in an organized way unite that which radiates across to us in three so sharply defined spiritual streams from old India in the Veda philosophy, the Sankhya philosophy, and Yoga. For that reason our age must study the wonderful poem of the Bhagavad Gita, which, in a deeply poetical manner, represents as it were a union of these three streams; our own age must be deeply moved by the Bhagavad Gita. We should seek something akin to our own spiritual strivings in the deeper contents of the Bhagavad Gita.
Our spiritual streams do not only concern themselves with the older ones as a whole, but also in detail. You will have recognized that in my Occult Science an attempt has been made to produce the things out of themselves. Nowhere do we depend on history. Nowhere can one who really understands what is said find in any assertion about Saturn, Sun, and Moon, that things are related from historical sources; they are simply drawn forth from the matter itself. Yet, strange to say, that which bears the stamp of our own time corresponds in striking places with what resounds down to us out of the old ages. Only one little proof shall be given. We read in the Vedas in a particular place, about cosmic development, which can be expressed in words somewhat like the following: “Darkness was enwrapt in darkness in the primal beginning; all was indistinguishable flood-essence. Then arose a mighty void, that was everywhere permeated with warmth.” I now ask you to remember the result of our study of the evolution of Saturn, in which the substance of Saturn is spoken of as a warmth-substance, and you will feel the harmony between the so-called “newest thing in Occult Science” and what is said in the Vedas. The next passage runs: “Then first arose the Will, the first seed of Thought, the connection between the Existent and the Non-existent, ... and this connection was found in the Will ...” And remember what was said in the new mode of expression about the Spirits of Will. In all we have to say at the present time, we are not seeking to prove a concord with the old; the harmony comes of itself, because truth was sought for there and is again being sought for on our own ground
Now, in the Bhagavad Gita we find, as it were, the poetical glorification of the three spiritual streams just described. The great teachings that Krishna himself communicated to Arjuna are brought to our notice at an important moment of the world's history — of importance for that far-distant age. The moment is significant, because it is the time when the old blood-ties were loosening. In all that is to be said in these lectures about the Bhagavad Gita you must remember what has again and again been emphasized: that ties of blood, racial attachment, and kinship were of quite special significance in primeval times, and only grew less strong by degrees. Remember all that is said in my pamphlet The Occult Significance of Blood. When these blood-ties begin to loosen, on account of that loosening, the great struggle began which is described in the Mahabharata, and of which the Bhagavad Gita is an episode. We see there how the descendants of two brothers, and hence, blood relations, separate on account of their spiritual tendencies; how that which, through the blood, would formerly have given them the same points of view,now takes different paths; and how, therefore, the conflict then arises, for conflict must arise when the ties of blood also lose their significance as a help for clairvoyant perception; and with this separation begins the later spiritual development.. For those to whom the old blood-ties no longer were of significance, Krishna came as a great teacher. He was to be the teacher of the new age lifted out of the old blood-ties. How he became the teacher we shall describe tomorrow; but it may now be said, as the whole Bhagavad Gita shows us, that Krishna absorbed the three spiritual streams into his teaching and communicated them to his pupil as an organized unity.
How must this pupil appear to us? He looks up on the one side to his father, and on the other side to his father's brother. The children of the two brothers are now no longer to be together, they are to separate; now a different spiritual stream is to take possession of the one line and the other. Arjuna's soul is filled with the question: How will it be when that which was held together by the ties of blood is no longer there? How can the soul take part in spiritual life if that life no longer flows as it formerly did under the influence of the old blood-tie? It seems to Arjuna as if everything must come to an end.
The purport of the great teachings of Krishna, however, is to show that this will not be the case, that it all will be different. Krishna now shows his pupil — who is to live through the time of transition from one epoch to another — that the soul, if it is to become harmonious, must take in something of all these three spiritual streams. We find the Vedic unity interpreted in the right way in the teachings of Krishna, as well as the principles of the Sankhya teaching and the principles of Yoga. For what is it that actually lies behind all that we are about to learn from the Bhagavad Gita? The revelations of Krishna are somewhat to this effect: There is a creative Cosmic Word, itself containing the creative principle. As the sound produced by man when he speaks undulates and moves and lives through the air, so does the Word surge and weave and live in all things, and create and order all existence. Thus the Veda principle breathes through all things. This can be taken up by human perception into the human soul life. There is a supreme, weaving Creative Word, and there is an echo of this supreme, weaving Creative Word in the Vedic documents. The Word is the creative principle of the World; in the Vedas it is revealed. That is one part of the Krishna teaching. The human soul is capable of understanding how the Word lives on, in the different forms of existence. Human knowledge learns the laws of existence by grasping how the separate forms of being express, with the regularity of a fixed law, that which is soul and spirit. The teachings about the forms in the world, of the laws which shape existence, of cosmic laws and their manner of working, is the Sankhya philosophy, the other side of the Krishna teaching. Just as Krishna made clear to his pupil that behind all existence is the creative cosmic Word, so also he made clear to him that human knowledge can recognize the separate forms, and therefore can grasp the cosmic laws. The cosmic Word, the cosmic laws as echoed in the Vedas, and in Sankhya, were revealed by Krishna to his pupil. And he also spoke to him about the path that leads the individual pupil to the heights where he can once again share in the knowledge of the cosmic Word. Thus Krishna also spoke of Yoga. Threefold is the teaching of Krishna: it teaches of the Word, of the Law, and of reverent devotion to the Spirit.
The Word, the Law, and Devotion are the three streams by means of which the soul can carry out its development.
These three streams will for ever work upon the human soul in some way or another. Have we not just seen that modern Spiritual Science must seek for new expression of these three streams? But the ages differ one from the other, and in many different ways will that which is the threefold comprehension of the world be brought to human souls. Krishna speaks of the Cosmic Word, of the Creative Word; of the fashioning of existence; of the devotional deepening of the soul — of Yoga.
The same trinity meets us again in another form, only in a more concrete, more living way — in a being who is Himself to be thought of as walking the Earth — the Incarnation of the Divine Creative Word! The Vedas came to mankind in an abstract form. The Divine Logos, of whom the Gospel of St. John speaks, is the Living and Creative Word Itself! That which we find in the Sankhya philosophy, as the law to which the cosmic forms are subject, that, historically transposed into the old Hebrew revelation, is what St. Paul calls the Law. The third stream we find in St. Paul as Faith in the risen Christ. That which was Yoga in Krishna, in St. Paul was Faith, only in a more concrete form — Faith, that was to replace the Law.
So the trinity of Veda, Sankhya, and Yoga were as the redness of the dawn of that which later rose as Sun. Veda appears again in the actual being of Christ Himself now entering in a concrete, living way into historical evolution — not pouring Himself out abstractly into space and the distances of time, but living as a single individual, as the Living Word. The Law meets us in the Sankhya philosophy, in that which shows us how the material basis, Prakriti, is developed even down to coarse substance. The Law reveals how the world came into existence, and how individual man develops within it. That is expressed in the old Hebrew revelation of the Law, in the dispensation of Moses. Inasmuch as St. Paul, on the one hand, refers to this Law of the old Hebrews, he is referring to the Sankhya philosophy; inasmuch as he refers to faith in the Risen One, he refers to the Sun of which the rosy dawn appeared in Yoga. Thus arises in a special way that of which we find the first elements in Veda, Sankhya, and Yoga. What we find in the Vedas appears in a new but now concrete form as the Living Word by Whom all things were made and without Whom nothing is made that was made, and Who, nevertheless, in the course of time, has become Flesh. Sankhya appears as the historical representation based on Law of how out of the world of the Elohim emerged the world of phenomena, the world of coarse substances. Yoga transformed itself into that which, according to St. Paul, is expressed in the words “Not I, but Christ in me” — that is to say when the Christ-force penetrates the soul and absorbs it, man rises to the heights of the divine.
Thus we see how, in a preparatory form, the coherent plan is present in world history, how the Eastern teaching was a preparation, how it gives in more abstract form, as it were, that which in a concrete form we find so marvelously contained in the Pauline Christianity. We shall see that precisely by grasping the connection between the great poem of the Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, the very deepest mysteries will reveal themselves concerning what we may call the ruling of the spiritual in the collective education of the human race.
As something so new must also be felt in the new age, this newer age must extend beyond the time of Greece and must develop understanding for that which lies behind the thousand years immediately before Christ — for that which we find in the Vedas, Sankhya, and Yoga. Just as Raphael in his art and Thomas Aquinas in his philosophy had to turn back to Greece, so shall we see how in our time a conscious balance must be established between that which the present time is trying to acquire and that which lies further back than the Greek age, and stretches back to the depths of Oriental antiquity. We can allow these depths of Oriental antiquity to flow into our souls if we ponder over these different spiritual streams which are to be found within that wonderfully harmonious unity which Humboldt calls the greatest philosophical poem: the Bhagavad Gita.