Thursday, September 21, 2017
The Occult Significance of the Bhagavad Gita. Lecture 9 of 9.
Rudolf Steiner, June 5, 1913:
The latter part of the Bhagavad Gita is permeated by feelings and shades of meaning saturated with ideas of sattva, rajas, and tamas. In these last chapters our whole mode of thinking and feeling must be attuned so as to understand what is said in the sense of those three conditions. In the last lecture I sought to give an idea of those important concepts by making use of present-day experiences. Certainly anyone who enters deeply into this poem must perceive that since the time when it arose those concepts have shifted to some extent. Nevertheless, it would not have been correct to describe them simply by verbal quotations from the poem because our mode of feeling is different from what is contained there and we are unable to make those very different feelings our own. If we tried to we would only be describing the unknown by the unknown.
So in the Bhagavad Gita you will find with regard to food that the concepts we developed last time have shifted a little. What is true for man today about plant food was true for the ancient Indian of that food Krishna calls mild, gentle food, whereas rajas food, which we described correctly for man today as mineral food (salt, for instance), would have been designated at that time as sour or sharp. For our constitution meat is essentially a tamas food, but the Indian meant by this something that could hardly be considered food at present, which gives us an idea of how different men were then. They called tamas food what had become rotten, had stood too long, and had a foul smell. For our present incarnation we could not properly call that tamas food because man's organism has changed, even as far as his physical body.
Thus, in order to understand these feelings of sattva, rajas, and tamas, so fundamental in the Gita, it is well for us to apply them to our own conditions. Now, if we would consider what sattva really is, it is best to begin by taking the most striking conception of it. In our time the man who can give himself up to knowledge as penetrating as our present knowledge of the mineral kingdom is a sattva man. For the Indian he was not one who had such knowledge, but was one who went through the world with intelligent understanding as we would say, with heart and head in the right place — a man who takes without prejudice and bias the phenomena the world offers; who always perceives the world with sympathy and conceives it with intelligence; who receives the light of ideas, of feelings, and sentiments streaming out from all the beauty and loveliness of the world; who avoids all that is ugly, developing himself rightly. He who does all this in the physical world is a sattva man. In the inorganic world a sattva impression is that of a surface not too brilliant, illuminated in such a way that its details of color can be seen in their right luster yet bright also.
A rajas impression is one where a man is in a certain way prevented by his own emotions, his impulses and reactions, or by the thing itself from fully penetrating what lies around him, so that he does not give himself up to it but meets it with what he himself is. For example, he becomes acquainted with the plant kingdom. He can admire it, but he brings his own emotions to bear on it and therefore cannot penetrate it to its depths.
Tamas is where a man is altogether given up to his bodily life, so that he is blunt and apathetic toward his environment, as we are toward a consciousness different from our own. While we dwell on the physical plane we know nothing of the consciousness of a dog or a horse, not even of another human being. In this respect man, as a rule, is blunt and dull. He withdraws into his own bodily life. He lives in impressions of tamas. But man must gradually become apathetic to the physical world in order to have access to the spiritual worlds in clairvoyance. In this way we can best read the ideas of sattva, rajas, and tamas. In external nature a rajas impression would be that of a moderately bright surface, say of green, a uniform green shade; a dark-colored surface would represent a tamas impression. Where man looks out into the darkness of universal space, when the beautiful spectacle of the free heavens appears to him, the impression he gains is none other than that blue color that is almost a tamas color.
If we saturate ourselves with the feeling these ideas give we can apply them to everything that surrounds us. These ideas are really comprehensive. For the ancient Indian, to know well about this threefold nature of his surroundings meant not only a certain understanding of the outer world, it also meant bringing to life his own inner being. He felt it somewhat as follows. Imagine a primitive country man who sees the glory of nature around him — the early morning sky, the sun and stars, everything he can see. He does not think about it, however. He does not build up concepts and ideas about the world but just lives on in utmost harmony with it. If he begins to feel himself an individual person, distinguishing his soul from his environment, he has to do so by learning to understand his surroundings through ideas about them.
To set up one's environment objectively before one is always a certain way of grasping the reality of one's own being. The Indian of the time of the Bhagavad Gita said: “So long as one does not penetrate and perceive the sattva, rajas, and tamas conditions in one's environment, one continues merely to live in it. A person is not yet there, independently in his own being, but is bound up with his surroundings. However, when the world about him becomes so objective that one can pursue it everywhere with the awareness that this is a sattva condition, this a rajas, that a tamas, then one becomes more and more free of the world, more independent in himself.” This therefore is one way of bringing about consciousness of self. At bottom this is Krishna's concern — to free Arjuna's soul from all those things that surround him and are characteristic of the time in which he lives. So Krishna explains: “Behold all the life there on the bloody field of battle where brothers confront brothers, with all that thou feelest thyself bound to, dissolved in, a part of. Learn to know that all that is there outside you runs its course in conditions of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Then wilt thou contrast thyself with it; know that in thine own highest self thou dost not belong to it, and wilt experience thy separate being within thyself, the spirit in thee.”
Here we have another of the beautiful elements in the dramatic composition of the Bhagavad Gita. At first we are gradually made acquainted with its ideas as abstract concepts, but afterward these become more and more vivid. The concepts of sattva, rajas, and tamas take on living shape and form in the most varied spheres of life. Then at length the separation of Arjuna's soul from it all is accomplished, so to say, before our spiritual gaze. Krishna explains to him how we must free ourselves from all that is bound up with these three conditions, from that in which men are ordinarily interwoven.
There are sattva men who are so bound up with existence as to be attached to all the happiness and joy they can draw from their environment. They speed through the world, drinking in their blissfulness from all that can give it to them. Rajas men are diligent, men of action; but they act because actions have such and such consequences to which they are attached. They depend on the joy of action, on the impression action makes upon them. Tamas men are attached to laziness, they want to be comfortable. They really do not want to act at all. Thus are men to be distinguished. Those whose souls and spirits are bound into external conditions belong to one or other of these three groups.
“But thine eyes shall see the daybreak of the age of self-consciousness. Thou shalt learn to hold thy soul apart. Thou shalt be neither sattva, rajas, nor tamas man.” Thus is Krishna the great educator of the human ego. He shows its separation from its environment. He explains soul activities according to how they partake of sattva, rajas, or tamas. If a man raises his belief to the divine creators of the world he is a sattva man. Just in that time of the Gita, however, there were men who in a certain sense knew nothing of the divine beings guiding the universe. They were completely attached to the so-called nature spirits, those behind the immediate beings of nature. Such men are rajas men. The tamas men are those who in viewing the world get only so far as what we may call the ghost-like, which in its spiritual nature is nearest to the material. So, in regard to religious feeling also these three groups may be distinguished.
If we wished to apply these concepts to religious feeling in our time we should say (but without flattery) that those who strive after anthroposophy are sattva men; those attached to external faith are rajas men; those who, in a material or spiritual sense, will only believe in what has bodily shape and form — the materialists and spiritualists — are the tamas men. The spiritualist does not ask for spiritual beings in whom he may believe; he is quite prepared to believe in them, but he does not want to lift himself up to them. He wants them to come down to him. They must rap, because he can hear rapping with physical ears. They must appear in clouds of light because such are visible to his eyes. Such are tamas men in a certain conscious sense, and quite in the sense too of the tamas men of Krishna's time.
There are also unconscious tamas men; the materialistic thinkers of our time who deny all that is spiritual. When materialists meet in conference today they persuade themselves that they adhere to materialism on logical grounds, but this is an illusion. Materialists are people who remain so not on the basis of logic but for fear of the spiritual. They deny the spirit because they are afraid of it. They are in effect compelled to deny it by the logic of their own unconscious soul, which does indeed penetrate to the door of the spiritual but cannot pass through. One who can see reality can see in a materialistic congress how each person in the depths of his soul is afraid of the spirit. Materialism is not logic, it is cowardice before the spiritual. All its arguments are nothing but an opiate to damp down this fear. Actually, Ahriman — the giver of fear — has every materialist by the neck. This is a grotesque but an austere and fundamental truth that one may recognize if one goes into any materialistic meeting. Why is such a meeting called? The illusion is that people there discuss views of the universe, but in reality it is a meeting to conjure up the devil Ahriman, to beckon him into their chambers.
Krishna, then, indicates to Arjuna how the different religious beliefs may be classified, and he also speaks to him of the different ways men may approach the gods in actual prayer. In all cases the temper of man's soul can be described in terms of these three conditions. Sattva, rajas, and tamas men are different in the way they relate to their Gods. Tamas men are such as priests, but whose priesthood depends on a kind of habit. They have their office but no living connection with the spiritual world. So they repeat Aum, Aum, Aum, which proceeds from the dullness, the tamas condition of their spirit. They pour forth their subjective nature in the Aum.
Rajas men look out on the surrounding world and begin to feel that it has something in it akin to themselves, that it is related to them and therefore worthy to be worshipped. They are the men of “Tat” who worship the “That,” the cosmos, as being akin to themselves. Sattva men perceive that what lives within us is one with all that surrounds us in the universe outside. In their prayer they have a sense for “Sat,” the All-being, the unity without and within, unity of the objective and the subjective. Krishna says that he who would truly become free in his soul, who does not wish to be merely a sattva, rajas, or tamas man in any one respect or another, must attain to a transformation of these conditions in himself so that he wears them like a garment, while in his real self he grows out beyond them.
This is the impulse that Krishna as the creator of self-consciousness must give. Thus he stands before Arjuna and teaches him: “Look upon all the conditions of the world, with all that is to man highest and deepest, but free thyself from the highest and deepest of the three conditions and in thine own self become as one who lays hold of himself. Learn and know that thou canst live without feeling thyself bound up with rajas, or tamas, or sattva.” One had to learn this at that time because it was the beginning of the dawn of self-liberation, but here again, what then required the greatest effort can today be found right at hand. This is the tragedy of present life. There are too many today who stand in the world and burrow down into their own soul, finding no connection with the outer world; who in their feelings and all their inner experiences are lonely souls. They neither feel themselves bound up with the conditions of sattva, rajas, or tamas, nor are they free from them, but are cast out into the world like an endlessly, aimlessly revolving wheel. Such men who live only in themselves and cannot understand the world, who are unhappy because in their soul-life they are separated from all external existence — these represent the shadow side of the fruit that it was Krishna's task to develop in Arjuna and in all his contemporaries and successors. What had to be Arjuna's highest endeavor has become the greatest suffering for many men today.
Thus do successive ages change. Today we must say that we are at the end of the age that began with the time of the Bhagavad Gita. This may penetrate our feelings with deep significance. It may also tell us that just as in that ancient time those seeking self-consciousness had to hear what Krishna told Arjuna, those seeking their soul's salvation today, in whom self-consciousness is developed to a morbid degree, these too should listen. They should listen to what can lead them once more to an understanding of the three external conditions. What can do this?
Let us put forward some more preliminary ideas before we set out to answer this question. Let us ask again: What is it that Krishna really wants for Arjuna, whose relation to external conditions was a right one for his time? What is it that he says with divine simplicity and naïveté? He reveals what he wishes to be even to our present time. We have described how a kind of picture-consciousness, a living imagery, lighted up man's soul; how there was hovering above it, so to say, what today is self-consciousness, which men at that time had to strive for with all their might but which today is right at hand. Try to live into the soul condition of that time before Krishna introduced the new age. The world around men did not call forth clear concepts and ideas, but pictures like those of our dreams today. Thus the lowest region of soul-life was a picture-like consciousness, and this was illumined from the higher region — of sleep consciousness — through inspiration. In this way they could rise to still higher conditions. This ascent was called “entering into Brahman.” To ask a soul today, living in Western lands, to enter into Brahman would be a senseless anachronism. It would be like requiring a man who is halfway up a mountain to reach the top by the same way as one still down in the valley. With equal right could one ask a Western soul today to do Eastern exercises and “enter into Brahman” because this presupposes that a man is at the stage of picture consciousness — which as a matter of fact certain Easterners still are. What the men of the Gita age found in rising into Brahman the Western man already has in his concepts and ideas. This is really true: that Shankaracharya would today introduce the ideas of Solovieff, Hegel, and Fichte to his revering disciples as the first stage of rising into Brahman. It is not the content, however, it is the pains of the way, that are important.
Krishna indicates a main characteristic of this rising into Brahman, by which we have a beautiful characterization of Krishna himself. At that time the constitution of the soul was all passive. The world of pictures came to you, you gave yourself up to these flowing pictures. Compare this with the altogether different nature of our everyday world. Devotion, giving ourselves up to things, does not help us to understand them, even though there are many who do not wish to advance to what must necessarily take place in our time. Nevertheless, for our age we have to exert ourselves, to be alive and active, in order to get ideas and concepts of our surrounding world. Herein lies all the trouble in our education. We have to educate children so that their minds are awake when their concepts of the surrounding world are being formed. Today the soul must be more active than it was in the age before the origin of the Bhagavad Gita. We can put it so:
Bhagavad Gita Age — rising to Brahman with passive souls.
Intellectual Age (our present age) — actively working our way up into the higher worlds.
What then must Krishna say when he wishes to introduce that new age in which the active way of gaining an understanding of the universe is gradually to begin? He must say: “I have to come; I have to give thee the ego-man, a gift that shall impel thee to activity.” If it had all remained passive as before — a being interwoven with the world, devoted to the world — the new age would never have begun. Everything connected with the entry of the soul into the spiritual world before the time of the Gita Krishna calls devotion: “All is devotion to Brahman.” This he compares to the feminine in man; while what is the self in man, the active working element that is to create self-consciousness, that pushes up from within as the generator of the self-consciousness that is to come, Krishna calls the masculine in man. What man can attain in Brahman must be fertilized by Krishna. So his teaching to Arjuna is: “All men until now were Brahman-men. Brahman is all that is spread out as the mother-womb of the whole world. But I am the father, who came into the world to fertilize the maternal womb.”
Thus the consciousness of self is created, which is to work on all men. This is indicated as clearly as possible. Krishna and Brahman are related to each other as father and mother in the world. Together they produce the self-consciousness man must have in the further course of his evolution — the self-consciousness that makes it possible for him to become ever more perfect as an individual being. The Krishna faith has altogether to do with the single man, the individual person. To follow his teaching exclusively means to strive for the perfection of oneself as an individual. This can be achieved only by liberating the self, loosening it from all that adheres to external conditions. Fix your attention on this backbone of Krishna's teaching, how it directs man to put aside all externals, to become free from the life that takes its course in continually changing conditions of every kind; to comprehend oneself in the self alone, that it may be borne ever onward to higher perfection. See how this perfection depends on man's leaving behind him all the external configuration of things, casting off the whole of outer life like a shell, becoming free and ever more inwardly alive in himself. Man tearing himself away from his environment, no longer asking what goes on in external processes of perfection but asking how shall he perfect himself: this is the teaching of Krishna.
Krishna — that is, the spirit who worked through Krishna — appeared again in the Jesus child of the Nathan line of the House of David, described in St. Luke's Gospel. Thus, fundamentally, this child embodied the impulse, all the forces, that tend to make man independent and loosen him from external reality. What was the intention of this soul that did not enter human evolution but worked in Krishna and again in this Jesus child? At a far distant time this soul had had to go through the experience of remaining outside human evolution because the antagonist Lucifer had come, he who said: “Your eyes will be opened and you will distinguish good and evil, and be as God.” In the ancient Indian sense Lucifer said to man: “You will be as the gods, and will have power to find the sattva, rajas, and tamas conditions in the world.”
Lucifer directed man's attention to the outer world. By his instigation man had to learn to know the external, and therefore had to go through the long course of evolution down to the time of Christ. Then he came who was once withdrawn from Lucifer: he came in Krishna and later in the Luke Jesus child. In two stages he gave that teaching that from another side was to be the antithesis of the teaching of Lucifer in Paradise. “He wanted to open your eyes to the conditions of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Shut your eyes to these conditions and you will find yourselves as men, as self-conscious human beings.” Thus does the Imagination appear before us. On the one side the Imagination of Paradise, where Lucifer opens man's eyes to the three conditions in the external world, when for a while the opponent of Lucifer withdraws. Then men go through their evolution and reach the point where in two stages another teaching is given them, of self-consciousness, which bids them close their eyes to the three external conditions. Both teachings are one-sided. If the Krishna-Jesus influence alone had continued, one one-sidedness would have been added to another. Man would have taken leave of all that surrounds him, would have lost all interest in external evolution. Each person would only have sought his own perfection. Striving for perfection is right; but such striving bought at the price of a lack of interest in the whole of humanity is one-sided, even as the Luciferic influence was one-sided. Hence the all-embracing Christ Impulse entered as the higher synthesis of the two one-sided tendencies.
In the personality of the St. Luke Jesus child the Christ Impulse lived for three years — the Christ who came to mankind to bring together these two extremes. Through each of them mankind would have fallen into weakness and sin. Through Lucifer humanity would have been condemned to live one-sidedly in the external conditions of sattva, rajas, and tamas. Through Krishna they were to be educated for the other extreme, to close their eyes and seek only their own perfection. Christ took the sin upon Himself. He gave to men what reconciles the two one-sided tendencies. He took upon Himself the sin of self-consciousness that would close its eyes to the world outside: He took upon Himself the sin of Krishna, and of all who would commit his sin. And He took upon Himself the sin of Lucifer and of all who would commit the sin of fixing their attention on externalities. By taking both extremes upon Himself he makes it possible for humanity by degrees to find a harmony between the inner and the outer world because in that harmony alone man's salvation is to be found.
An evolution that has once begun, however, cannot end suddenly. The urge to self-consciousness that began with Krishna went on and on, increasing and intensifying self-consciousness more and more, bringing about estrangement from the outer world. In our time too this course is tending to continue. At the time when the Krishna impulse was received by the Luke Jesus child mankind was in the midst of this development, this increase of self-consciousness and estrangement from the outer world. It was this that was brought home to the men who received the baptism of John in the Jordan, so that they understood the Baptist when he said to them: “Change your disposition; walk no longer in the path of Krishna” — though he did not use this word. The path on which mankind had then entered we may call the Jesus-path if we would speak in an occult sense. In effect, the pursuit of this Jesus-path alone went on and on through the following centuries. In many respects human civilization in the centuries following the foundation of Christianity was only related to Jesus, not to the Christ Who lived in Jesus for the three years from the baptism by John until the Mystery of Golgotha.
Every line of evolution, however, works its way onward up to a certain tension. In the course of time this longing for individual perfection was driven to such a pitch that men were in a certain sense brought more and more into the tragedy of estrangement from the divine in nature, from the outer world. Today we are experiencing this in many ways. Many people are going about among us who have little understanding left of our environment. Therefore, it is just in our time that an understanding of the Christ Impulse must break in upon us. The Christ-path must be added to the Jesus-path. The path of one-sided striving for perfection has become too strong. It has gone so far that in many respects men are so remote from their surroundings that certain movements, when they arise, over-reach themselves immediately, and the longing for the opposite is awakened. Many human souls now feel how little they can escape from this enhanced self-consciousness, and this creates an impulse to know the divinity of the outer world. It is such souls as these who in our time will seek the understanding of the Christ Impulse that is opened up by true anthroposophy, the force that does not merely strive for the one-sided perfection of the individual soul but belongs to the whole progress of humanity. To understand the Christ means not merely to strive toward perfection, but to receive in oneself something expressed by St. Paul: “Not I, but Christ in me.” “I” is the Krishna word. “Not I, but Christ in me” is the Christian word.
So we see how every spiritual movement in history has in a certain sphere its justification. No one must imagine that the Krishna impulse could have been dispensed with. No one should ever think either that one human spiritual movement is fully justified in its one-sidedness. The two extremes — the Luciferic and the Krishna impulses — had to find their higher unity in the mission of the Christ.
He who would understand in the true anthroposophic sense the impulse necessary for the further evolution of mankind must realize how anthroposophy has to become a means of shedding light on all religions. He must learn to see how the different streams in evolution all flow into the one main current of development. It would be a dilettante way of beginning to do this if one tried to find again in the Krishna stream what can be found in the stream of Christianity. Only when we regard the matter in this way do we understand what it means to seek a unity in all religions. There is, however, another way of doing so. One may repeat over and over: “In all religions the same fundamental essence is contained.” In effect, the same essence is contained in the root of a plant, in the stem, leaves, flowers, the pollen, and the fruit. That is true, but it is an abstract truth. It is no more profound than if one were to say: “Why make any distinctions? Salt, pepper, vinegar, and milk all have their place on the table; all are one, for all are substance.” Here you can tell how futile such a way of thought can be. But you do not notice it so easily when it comes to comparing religions. It will not do to compare the Chinese, Brahmin, Krishnan, Buddhist, Persian, Muslim, and Christian faiths in this abstract way, saying: “Look: everywhere we find the same principles. In each case there is a Savior.”
Abstractions can indeed be found in countless places and in countless ways, but this is a dilettante method because it leads to nothing. One may form societies to pursue the study of all religions, and do so in the same sense as saying pepper, salt, etc. are one because they are all substance. That has no importance. What is important is to regard things as they really are. To the way of looking at things that goes so far in occult dilettantism as to keep on declaiming the equality of all religions, it is one and the same whether what lived in the Christ is the pivot of the whole of evolution or whether it can be found in the first man you meet in the street. For one who wishes to guide his life by truth it is an atrocity to associate the impulse in the world's history that is bound up with the Mystery of Golgotha and for which the name Christ has been preserved — to associate that impulse with any other impulse in history, because in truth it is the central point of the whole of earthly evolution.
In these lectures I have tried by means of a particular instance to indicate how present-day occultism must try to throw light on the different spiritual movements that have appeared in the course of human history. Though each has its right and proper point of contact, one must distinguish between them as between the stem of a plant and the green leaf, and the green leaf from the colored petal, though all together form a unity. If one tries with this truly modern occultism to penetrate with one's soul into what has flowed into humanity in diverse currents, one recognizes how the different religious faiths lose nothing of their greatness and majesty. How sublime was the greatness that appeared to us in the figure of Krishna even when we simply tried to get a definite view of his place in evolution. All such lines of thought as we can give only in outline are indeed imperfect enough, and you may be assured that no one is more aware of their imperfection than the present speaker. But the endeavor has been to show in what spirit a true consideration of the spiritual movement toward individuality in mankind must be carried out. I purposely tried to derive our thoughts from a spiritual creation remote from us, the Bhagavad Gita, to show how Western minds can perceive and feel what they owe to Krishna; what he, through the continued working of his impulse, still signifies for their own upward striving.
However, the spiritual movement we here represent necessarily demands that we enter concretely, and with real love, into the special nature of every current in man's spiritual history. This is a bit inconvenient because it brings us all too near to the humble thought of how little after all we really penetrate into their depths. Another idea follows upon this: that we must go on striving further and ever further. Both of these ideas are inconvenient. It is the sad fate of that movement we call anthroposophy that it produces inconvenient results for many souls. It requires that we actively lay hold of the definite, separate facts of the world's development. At the same time it requires each of us to say earnestly to himself: “I can indeed reach something higher, and I will. Always it is only a certain stage and standpoint that I have attained. I must forever go on striving — on — and on — without end.”
Thus, all along it has been not quite comfortable to belong to that spiritual movement that by our efforts is endeavoring to take its place in what is called the Theosophical Movement. [Dr. Steiner is referring here, and in the following passages, to his break with the Theosophical Society and to the formation of the Anthroposophical Society. A full account of these events can be found in G. Wachsmuth, The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner, pp. 186–189.] It has not been easy, because we demand that people shall learn to strive ever more deeply to penetrate the sacred mysteries. We could not supply you with anything so easy as introducing some person's son or even daughter, saying: “You need only wait; the Savior of mankind will appear physically embodied in this boy or girl.” We could not do this because we must be true. Yet, one who perceives what is happening cannot but regard these latest proceedings as the final grotesque outcome of the dilettante comparison of religions that can also be put forward so easily, and that continually repeats what should be taken as a matter of course, the tritest of all sayings: “All religions contain the same essence.”
The last weeks and months have shown — and my speaking here on this significant subject has shown it again — that a circle of people can be found at the present time who are ready to seek spiritual truths. We have no other concern than to put these truths forward, though many, or even everyone, may leave us. If so, it will make no difference in the way the spiritual truths are here proclaimed. The sacred obligation to truth will guide that movement that underlies this cycle of lectures. Whoever would go with us must do so under the conditions that have now become necessary. It is certainly more convenient to proceed otherwise, not entering into another side of the matter as we do by pointing out the reality in all things. But that also is part of our obligation to truth. It is simpler to inform people of the equality and unity of religions, or tell them they are to wait for the incarnation of a Savior who is predestined, whom they are to recognize not by themselves but on someone's authority.
Human souls today will themselves have to decide how far a spiritual movement can be carried on and upheld by pure devotion to the ideal of truthfulness. In our time it had to come to that sharp cleavage, whose climax was reached when those who had no other desire than to set forth what is true and genuine in evolution were described as Jesuits. This was a convenient way of separating, but the external evidence was the work of objective falsehood. This cycle of lectures may once more have shown you that we have been working out of no one-sided tendency, since it comprises the present, the past, and the primal past in order to reveal the unique, fundamental impulse of human evolution. So I too may say that it fills me with the deepest satisfaction to have been able to give these lectures here before you. This shows me there is hope because there are souls here who have the impulse, the urge, toward that which works also in the supersensible with nothing but simple honest truthfulness.
I was forced to add this final word to these lectures, for it is necessary in view of all that has happened to us in the course of time down to the point of being excluded from the Theosophical Society. Considering all we have suffered, and all that is now being falsely asserted in numerous pamphlets, it was necessary to say something, although a discussion of these matters is always painful to me.
Those who desire to work with us must know that we have taken for our banner the humble, yet unconditional, honest striving for truth — striving ever upward into the higher worlds.
Image: from The Isenheim Altar by Gottfried Richter
|"He must increase : I must decrease." —John 3:30|
Anthroposophy: endeavoring to follow Christ through love of wisdom: wisdom dedicated to the service of the world
"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." — Helen Keller
"Either the spiritual path is difficult or it is no path at all." — Rudolf Steiner
We are not granted
A rest on any step;
The active man
Must live and strive
From life to life;
As plants renew themselves
From Spring to Spring,
So man must rise
Through error to Truth,
From fetters into Freedom,
Through sickness and through death
To Beauty, Health, and Life.
A rest on any step;
The active man
Must live and strive
From life to life;
As plants renew themselves
From Spring to Spring,
So man must rise
Through error to Truth,
From fetters into Freedom,
Through sickness and through death
To Beauty, Health, and Life.
|"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|