Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cosmic Ego and Human Ego: The Nature of Christ the Resurrected

Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Munich, January 9, 1912

It is necessary that we speak somewhat further this evening concerning the nature of Christ Jesus. This necessity arises from the fact that at the present time there is much discussion of this subject, especially in Theosophical circles, and on that account the need confronts us in a very real sense to come to complete clarity upon many a point in this domain.

Today we shall have to discuss an aspect of the question which to many may perhaps appear somewhat strange, but it is very important nevertheless. We shall start with the evolution of man. We know, of course, that this has progressed in such a way that the whole of humanity within our Earth evolution passes through certain cyclic epochs. And we have often spoken of the fact that we can distinguish five cultural periods, up to and including our time, since that great catastrophe which we call the Atlantean catastrophe, through which life on the old Atlantean continent was transformed into life on the new continents — that is, our life. We speak of the first, the ancient Indian cultural epoch; of the second, the great ancient Persian epoch; of the third, the Egypto-Chaldaic-Babylonian; and of the fourth, the Greco-Latin, which, for a more comprehensive worldview, only receded, let us say, between the eighth and the twelfth Christian centuries; and then we speak of our own, the present, the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, since 1413.

Now, human souls — hence the souls of all of you sitting here — have gone through various incarnations in these successive cultural epochs up to the present time, one soul in many embodiments, another in a relatively smaller number. These souls, according to the characteristics of the epochs, appropriated this or that from their experiences, brought it with them from the earlier into the later incarnations, and then appeared as souls at a stage of development dependent upon what they had previously experienced in the different cultural epochs.

But now we can also speak of the fact that, of the various members of man's nature, generally one or another, but usually a definite member, was formed and developed in each cultural epoch — but note well that this was only generally the case. Thus, we can say that if human beings permit to work upon them all that our epoch of civilization can give, they are especially called in our time to develop what in our spiritual scientific movement we call the consciousness soul; whereas, during the Greco-Latin epoch the intellectual or rational soul was preeminently developed; during the Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian epoch, the sentient soul; during the ancient Persian, the sentient or astral body; and in the old Indian, what we call the etheric or life body. These various members of man's nature have come to their corresponding development in connection with individual souls passing through these cultural epochs, in one or, in most cases, in several incarnations. And in that epoch which will follow our own as the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, that member will be especially developed which we characterize as Spirit-Self, and which in theosophical literature has been designated Manas; and in the last, the seventh post-Atlantean epoch, that which we characterize as Life-Spirit, and which in Theosophical literature is called Buddhi; while Spirit-Man, or Atman, is to be evolved only in a far distant future, after another catastrophe.

And so in the present and the near future we are in the midst of the development through our environment, through the normal conditions of our civilization, of what is called the Consciousness Soul.

But now we know that this entire development of the human being, this evolution of the individual soul members as we differentiate them, is essentially bound up with something else — is essentially bound up with the gradual incorporation of the human ego. For this incorporation of the human ego into the nature of man is the whole mission of the Earth evolution.

So we have, as it were, two intermingling evolutionary streams, in that we must go through the Earth evolution, following that of Saturn, Sun, and Moon, and that as  Earth humanity we bring to development especially this fourth member, the Ego, and join this Ego to the other principal members of human nature, upon which preparatory work was done earlier: namely, the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body. You must now distinguish this great, most important evolutionary stream, which is connected with the great embodiments of our Earth planet itself, from the smaller evolutionary stream, which I have previously characterized as playing its part within so short a time as the post-Atlantean period.

No one who has understood the matter up to this point should ask the question: Then how does it happen that man had already developed the etheric or life body, on the old Sun, and that now a special development of the same body should take place during the ancient Indian epoch? Anyone who has understood really should not ask this question; for the facts are these: To be sure, preliminary work was done upon the etheric or life-body during the old Sun; man came upon the Earth already in possession of an etheric body. But this body can now be more finely formed; it can be worked upon by the later members which man has developed. So that naturally man's etheric body is at a relatively high stage when he is incarnated in an ancient Indian body, but in this post-Atlantean period he works upon his etheric body with the ego which he has acquired — with all that the human being has meanwhile gained for himself, he works upon it and refines it. And it is essentially a refining of the various members of man's nature which takes place in our post-Atlantean period.

If you now take the entire evolution and consider what has just been said, the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Greco-Latin, will appear to you quite especially important; for what we call the Rational or Intellectual Soul had then to be worked upon and brought to a more refined form within the human being. But by that time the Ego, which belongs to the greater evolutionary stream, had already undergone a particularly high development. So we can say that up to the fourth post-Atlantean period, the Greco-Latin time, this ego of man had evolved to a certain stage, and it was incumbent upon it then to work upon the Rational or Intellectual Soul; and in our time upon the Consciousness Soul.

You see in a certain sense there now exists an intimate relationship between the human ego and the three members of man's soul nature: the sentient soul, the rational or intellectual soul, and the consciousness soul. Chiefly within these three members the human ego lives its inner life; and in our fifth post-Atlantean epoch it lives in the consciousness soul, and will live most deeply in it, because in the consciousness soul the pure ego can come to expression quite unhindered, so to speak, by the other members. Indeed we live in our time in an epoch in which this ego has the great and special mission of developing itself, of building upon itself.

If we take a sort of prophetic glance into the future, at what is to come, if we say that man will develop the Spirit-Self, or Manas, in the next, the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, then we recognize that Spirit-Self, or Manas, really lies above the sphere of the ego. As a matter of fact, man could not in this future develop the Spirit-Self out of his own forces; but if he is to develop his Spirit-Self, he must be helped in a certain way by that which flows to the Earth through the forces of higher beings. Man has come to that stage in the evolution of his ego where, out of his own forces, he really can develop only up to the consciousness soul; but this development would not be complete if he should not anticipate in a certain sense that which will reach its true, complete, self-impelled human evolution only upon Jupiter, the next embodiment of our planet. Up to the end of the Earth evolution man should develop his ego; and he will have had opportunity to accomplish this development within the sentient, intellectual, and consciousness souls.

But the actual Spirit-Self is to become the human possession only upon Jupiter; only there will it become the fitting human endowment. On Jupiter man will have about the same relation to the Spirit-Self that he has to the ego on Earth. If then the human being develops the Spirit-Self during the Earth period, he cannot relate himself to it as to the ego. Of our ego we say: We ourself are that; it is ourself in reality. When in the next epoch, the sixth post-Atlantean, the Spirit-Self shall have come to expression, then we shall not be able to address this Spirit-Self as ourself; but we shall say: Our ego has developed to a certain stage, so that our Spirit-Self can shine into it, as from higher worlds, as a kind of Angel Being, which we ourselves are not, but which shines into us and takes possession of us. Thus will our Spirit-Self appear to us; and only upon Jupiter will it appear as our own being, as our ego now is. Human evolution moves forward in this way.

Hence, in the next, the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, we shall feel as if drawn upward to something which shines into us. We shall not say: Thou Spirit-Self within me ... but we shall say: I, partaker in a being who shines into me from upper worlds, who directs and leads me, who, through the grace of higher beings, has become my guide! ... That which will come to us only upon Jupiter as our very own, we shall feel in the sixth epoch as a kind of guide shining upon us from the higher worlds ... And thus it will be later with the Life-Spirit, or Buddhi, with the Spirit-Man [Atman], and so on ... So a time will come when man will speak of himself otherwise than he does now.

How does one speak of himself now when he speaks in the sense of spiritual science? He says: I have three sheaths: my physical body, my etheric body, and my astral body. Within these I have my ego, the essential Earth possession, which is evolving within these three sheaths. These sheaths are, as it were, my lower nature; I have grown beyond it, I look down to this, my lower nature; and I see in what my ego has become a preparatory stage of my own being, which will grow and evolve further and further.

 In the future man will have to speak otherwise; then he will say: I have not only my lower nature and my ego, but I have a higher nature, to which I look up as to something which is a part of me in the same way as my sheaths, which I have from earlier stages.

So in the future the human being will feel that he is placed midway, so to speak, between his lower and his higher nature. The lower nature he already knows now; the higher will in the future appear as if standing above him, just as now the lower is below him. So we may say that man grows from his fourth to his fifth, sixth, and seventh principles during the Earth evolution, but his fifth, sixth, and seventh principles will not be his direct possession during the actual Earth evolution, but something to which he will gradually attain. The matter must actually be conceived in this way.

We shall have to experience a time when we shall say: Certainly it was our Earth mission to develop our ego. But with prophetic anticipation we see something which is to come to development in us on Jupiter. What we are now experiencing during our Earth evolution — namely, that we permeate ourselves, so to speak, with a human ego nature; and that during the past Earth-time up to the present we have developed a finer fashioning of our lower principles; and that we shall perfect the higher principles in the future — all that we as human beings experience on Earth, more advanced beings whom we designate as angels, or  angeloi, experienced upon earlier planetary embodiments.

But also the higher members of the hierarchy — the archangels, or archangeloi, and the archai — have had this experience upon the earlier embodiments of our earth planet: upon Moon, Sun, and Saturn. For them also there was at that time a kind of fourth member which they developed; and then in the second half of the corresponding planetary embodiments they anticipated that which actually is to come to full development in them upon the Earth, as with us the Spirit-Self will come to development on Jupiter. They had not at that time fully embodied it within themselves as their possession, but they looked up to it.

If in the first place we look back to the old Moon evolution, we must speak of beings who during that time should have reached their seventh principle, in exactly the same way that we human beings during the Earth evolution come to the seventh principle — that is, not to embody it completely, but to look up to it. When we speak of Luciferic beings, we refer to those who during the old Moon evolution remained in the condition in which a man would be who, during the Earth evolution, had not brought to full development his fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, but had turned aside from such development; who perhaps had stopped with the fourth or with the fifth. That is, those beings who were at the very diverse stages of Luciferic beings were not fully evolved.

So we can say that human beings came over from the old Moon evolution to Earth evolution. They came over in such a way that those who completed the Moon evolution brought with them a normal development: their physical body, etheric or life body, and astral body; and on the Earth, quite properly, they should develop the ego, into which they should then take up the other principles. Other beings who stand higher than man should already have developed on the Moon what for them corresponds to the human ego. But they could have brought this Moon ego to full development only if they had anticipated what for them would be fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, of which they should have fully developed the fifth on Earth. They should have reached their seventh principle; but these Luciferic beings did not do so. They barely evolved the fifth or sixth; and thus did not stop with the fourth, but they did not bring the fourth to full development, because they did not anticipate the fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, but stopped with the fifth or sixth.

We distinguish then two classes of these Moon beings: First, those who had developed only their fifth principle, so that they were as we human beings would be if we should develop the Spirit-Self in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, and then stop, and not develop the sixth and seventh principles. Let us keep in mind this one class, who as Luciferic beings had developed their fifth principle; and then note another class of Moon beings of the Luciferic sort who had developed their sixth principle but not their seventh. There were such at the beginning of the Earth evolution, when man began the development of his ego.

So we can ask: What was the situation as regards these beings at the beginning of the Earth evolution? There were beings there who eagerly expected to develop their sixth principle during the Earth evolution, beings of a Luciferic kind, who upon the Moon had evolved only as far as their fifth principle and wished to develop their sixth upon the Earth. And there were beings of the second class, who had already developed their sixth principle on the Moon, and who wished to develop their seventh on the Earth. They expected that of the Earth evolution. Then there was man, who came over with three principles, to develop his fourth.

So we can distinguish human beings waiting for opportunity to develop their ego, Luciferic beings expecting to evolve their sixth principle, and the Luciferic beings who would evolve their seventh. We shall disregard those who were ready to develop their fifth, but there were such.

Now you see we have distinguished three classes, so to speak, of microcosmic Earth beings, three classes of beings who arrived upon the scene of Earth evolution. Of the three classes, however, only one could win a physical body for itself on the Earth; for the conditions which the Earth presents for the development of a physical fleshly body can be furnished only in conformity with its entire earthly relationship to a fourth human principle. Only that being could acquire a physical body for himself who wished to develop his fourth principle as ego. The other beings, who wished to develop a sixth and a seventh principle, could not get physical bodies for themselves. For there is no possibility on the Earth for the direct acquisition of physical human bodies for beings who come into this Earth evolution so unadapted to it. The possibility does not exist for the direct acquisition of such a physical body.

What did these beings have to do? They had to say to themselves: Of course we cannot have direct access to a human physical body consisting of flesh and bones, for such bodies are for human beings who wish to develop their ego. Hence we must take refuge in a kind of substitute physical body; we must search for human beings who belong to the most highly developed, that is, those who have evolved, let us say, their fourth principle. We must creep into these human beings, and in them our nature must work in such a way that they will be enabled to form their sixth or seventh principle.

The consequence of this was that among the ordinary human beings of ancient times some appeared who could be possessed by higher Luciferic beings. These naturally stood higher than man, since they were to form their sixth or seventh principle, and man only his fourth. Such higher beings of a Luciferic kind went about on the Earth in earthly human bodies. They were the leaders of Earth humanity; they knew and understood much more, and could do much more than other men. We are given accounts of these beings in ancient tales and legends, and it is told of them that here and there they were founders of great cities, were great leaders of peoples, and so on. They were not merely normal men upon Earth, but they were men who were possessed by such higher beings of a Luciferic sort — possessed in the best sense of the word. We can only understand human Earth evolution when we take account of such things.

But especially the less highly evolved of these beings, because they cannot get human bodies for themselves, are always trying to continue their evolution in the bodies of human beings. And that is just what we have been able to characterize. Luciferic beings always had the longing to continue their evolution in the way described, by possessing human beings; and they are still doing that today. Lucifer and his hosts work in the human soul; we are the stage for the Luciferic evolution. While we human beings simply take the human earthly body in order to develop ourselves, these Luciferic beings take us and develop themselves in us. And that is the temptation of human beings, that the Luciferic spirits work in them.

But meanwhile these Luciferic spirits have advanced, just as human beings have advanced; so that very many of them who, let us say, when man entered upon the Atlantean time, stood on the threshold ready to evolve their sixth principle, are now already forming their seventh, although of course this evolution on the Earth is abnormal. Such a spirit accomplishes this in the following way: He takes possession of a man, perhaps for only a few years, in order to make use of the experiences of this man, who on his part is thus furthering his own evolution. This is nothing evil in human nature; for since we can bring the consciousness soul to expression in our time, we can be possessed by Luciferic spirits who are evolving their seventh principle. What does a person become when he is possessed by such a lofty Luciferic spirit? A genius! But because as man he is possessed, and the real human nature is irradiated by this higher being, he is impractical for ordinary accomplishments, but works in some one realm as a pioneer and a leader.

One may not speak of the Luciferic spirit as if he were something altogether hateful; but because he develops himself as a parasite by entering the human being, he causes the man possessed by him and under his influence to work as a man of genius, as if inspired. So the Luciferic spirits are absolutely necessary, and the gifted men of Earth are they in whom the Luciferic spirit is working diligently — generally only for a couple of years. If that were not the case, Eduard Schuré would not have been able to describe Lucifer sympathetically; for Lucifer is actually assigned a share in the great cultural progress of the Earth, and it is narrow-mindedness in traditional Christianity to see in the Luciferic being only the wicked devil — this signifies nothing less than gross Philistinism. "Nature is sin, Spirit is devil; they cherish between them Doubt, their deformed bastard child,” we read in Faust.

Certainly it is fitting for the narrow, traditionally formed Christianity to call Lucifer the devil, and to hate him; but he who has an understanding of human evolution knows that the Luciferic principle works in the genius. It is fitting for the spiritual scientist to look these things straight in the face. And we should have no inducement whatever to rise to our fifth and sixth principles if these spirits did not push us forward. It is the Luciferic spirits to whom we really owe the forward thrust, given because they seek thereby their own evolution, and through which we ourselves are enabled to grow out beyond our ego. It is said trivially that poets and geniuses and artists grow above the narrowly confined human ego.

So we look up to the Luciferic spirits in a certain way as to leaders of men. We must free ourselves from narrowness, from all orthodox Christianity which calls Lucifer only a devil worthy of hatred. We must recognize the liberating character of the Luciferic principle, which has also been ordained by the good gods; for it drives us out beyond ourselves during the Earth evolution, so that we prophetically anticipate what will come to us as our own possession only during Jupiter, and so on. Thus there actually exists upon  Earth a reciprocal influence of microcosmic beings, who were present at the beginning of the Earth evolution — such a reciprocal influence that human beings are led forward, while they are developing their own ego, by beings related to them in such a way that it must be admitted that they are higher than man, for they have evolved their fifth principle and are developing their sixth, or are already evolving their seventh, while man is working only upon his fourth. So in these Luciferic beings we see superhuman beings — microcosmic superhuman beings.

And now we will turn aside from these spiritual beings whom we regard as Luciferic, and consider the nature of Christ.

The Christ is quite radically different from other beings who share in the Earth evolution. He is a being of quite another order; He is a  being who remained behind not only during the Moon evolution, as the Luciferic spirits did, but who, foreseeing the Moon evolution, actually remained behind still earlier, namely, during the old Sun evolution; and it was from a certain assured wisdom far above the human that He remained behind during the old Sun evolution. We cannot regard this being as microcosmic in the sense which applies to the other beings we have been considering; for we have to regard as microcosmic beings those who were connected with this Earth evolution from its beginning.

The Christ was not directly connected with the Earth evolution, but with the Sun evolution. He was a macrocosmic being from the beginning of the Earth evolution on, a being who was exposed to entirely different conditions of evolution from those of the microcosmic beings. And His evolutionary conditions were of a special sort; they were such that this macrocosmic Christ  being evolved the macrocosmic ego outside earthly conditions.

For this Christ evolution it was normal to bring to ego-perfection, outside the Earth, an ego of a macrocosmic sort, and then to descend to Earth. And so for the evolution of the Christ being it was normal, when He descended from the macrocosm to our  Earth, to bring into it the great impulse of the macrocosmic ego, in order that the microcosmic ego, the human ego, might take up this impulse, and be able to go forward in its evolution. It was normal for the Christ to have the macrocosmic ego-impulse — not the microcosmic ego-impulse — just as much evolved as man upon the Earth had developed the microcosmic.

Thus the Christ being is a  being who in a certain sense is like the human being, only that man is microcosmic and has brought his four principles to expression microcosmically, and hence has his ego also microcosmically as Earth ego — but the Christ as cosmic ego. His evolution was such that He was great and significant because of the perfect development of this ego, which He brought down to Earth. And He had not the fifth macrocosmic principle, and not the sixth, for He will evolve these on Jupiter and on Venus, in order that He may give them to man.

The Christ, then, is a four-membered being, including His macrocosmic ego, just as man himself is microcosmically a four-membered being. And as man during the Earth time has as his mission the development of his ego, in order to be able to receive, so the Christ had to develop His ego, in order to be able to give. When He descended to Earth His whole being was employed in bringing His fourth principle to expression in the most perfect possible form.

Now each macrocosmic principle has an inner relationship to the corresponding microcosmic principle; the fourth macrocosmic principle in the Christ corresponds to the fourth microcosmic principle in man, and the fifth in the Christ will correspond to the Spirit-Self in man.

Thus the Christ entered upon His earthly course in that He brought down to man out of the macrocosm what man was to evolve microcosmically — only the Christ brought it as a macrocosmic principle. He entered the Earth evolution in such a way that during its course He would not have a fifth, sixth, and seventh principle as His personal possession, just as man in his way does not possess them.

The Christ is a being Who had evolved macrocosmically up to the fourth principle, and the evolution of His fourth principle during the Earth course consists in His bestowing upon man everything which will enable him to evolve his ego.

If we take a complete survey, we have at the beginning of Earth evolution three classes of beings: human beings who were to bring their fourth principle to full development on Earth; a class of Luciferic beings who were to evolve their sixth principle; and a class of Luciferic beings who were to develop their seventh principle — beings who, because they were ready to develop their sixth and seventh principles, stood higher than man — in fact, ranged far above man in this respect. But they also ranged above Christ in this regard; for the Christ was to bring His fourth principle to expression on the Earth, in devotion to humanity. It will not be the Christ, let us say, that will quicken man in the future to bring to expression something other than the true ego, the innermost human being — to reach ever higher and higher stages. It will be the Luciferic spirits who will lead man out beyond himself in a certain sense.

Anyone who looks at the matter superficially can say “Of course then the Christ stands lower than, for example, the Luciferic spirits” because the Christ came to Earth with something which is fully related to man's fourth principle. For that reason He is not at all fitted to lead man above himself, but only more deeply into his own soul being; He is fitted to lead the individual soul-being of man more and more to itself. The Luciferic beings have evolved the fourth, fifth, and sixth principles, and hence in a certain way stand higher than the Christ.

Practically, that will work out in the future so that through the admission of the Christ principle into human natur, this human nature will become more and more deepened, will take up more and more light and love into its own being; so that the human being will have to feel Light and Love as belonging to his very self. The immeasurable deepening of the human soul — that will be the gift of the Christ Impulse, which will work on and on forever. And when the Christ shall come, as that coming has been represented in many lectures, then He will work only upon the deepening of human souls.

The other spirits who have higher principles than the Christ, though only microcosmic principles, will in a certain sense lead man out beyond himself. The Christ will deepen the inner life of man, but also make him humble; the Luciferic spirits will lead man out beyond himself, and make him wise, clever, talented, but also in a certain sense haughty; will teach him that he might become something superhuman even during the Earth evolution. Everything, therefore, which in the future shall lead man to rise above himself, as it were, which will make him proud of his own human nature even here upon  Earth — that will be a Luciferic impulse; but what makes a man more deeply sincere, what brings his inner life to such depths as can come only through the complete development of the fourth principle — that comes from the Christ.

People who look at the matter superficially will say that Christ really stands lower than the Luciferic beings, for He has developed only the fourth principle, and the others, higher principles. Only the difference is that these other beings bring the higher principles as something parasitic, grafted upon human nature; but the Christ brings the fourth principle in such a way that it penetrates human nature, takes root within it, and fills it with power. As the fleshly body of Jesus of Nazareth was once permeated and empowered by the fourth macrocosmic principle, so will the bodies of those who take the Christ into themselves be permeated by the fourth macrocosmic principle.

Just as the fourth macrocosmic principle is the gift of Christ, so will the sixth and the seventh principles be the gifts of the Luciferic spirits. So that in the future — and such time is now being prepared for — we may experience that people lacking in understanding will say: If we examine the Gospels, or otherwise allow to work upon us what Christ gave to humanity, we see that in regard to His teaching He does not at all rank as high as perhaps do other spiritual beings who are connected with humanity — they are higher than man in a certain way. They cannot penetrate the entire man, but they take root in his intellect, they make him a genius! And one who observes only outwardly says that these beings stand higher than the Christ.

And the time will come when the most powerful, the most significant of these Luciferic spirits, who will wish to lead the people out beyond themselves, so to speak, will be extolled, and looked upon as a great human leader; and it will be said that what the Christ was able to furnish was really only a bridge. Now already there are people who say: What do the teachings of the Gospels amount to! We have outgrown them. — As has been said, men will point to a lofty, versatile spirit, a spirit of genius, who will take possession of a human fleshly nature, which he will permeate with his genius. It will be said that he surpasses even the Christ! For the Christ was one who gave opportunity to develop the fourth principle; but this one gives opportunity during the Earth evolution to attain to the seventh principle.

Thus will the Christ Spirit and the spirit of this being face one another — the Christ Spirit, from whom humanity may hope to receive the mighty macrocosmic impulse of its fourth principle, and the Luciferic Spirit, who will wish in a certain way to lead humanity beyond this.

If people would agree that we must acquire from the Luciferic spirits only that to which we can look up in the same way that we look down to our lower nature, then they would be doing right. But if people should come to say: You see the Christ gives only the fourth principle, while these spirits give the sixth and seventh ... people who think thus concerning Christ will worship and extol ... the Antichrist.

Thus will the position of the Antichrist toward the Christ make itself felt in the future. And with the outer intellect, with the outer wisdom, one will not be able to challenge such things; for it will be possible to produce much which from the point of view of the intellect and talent will be more clever in the Antichrist than that which will more and more flow into the soul from the Christ as the highest human principle. Because Christ brings to man the fourth macrocosmic principle — since it is macrocosmic, it is infinitely more important than all microcosmic principles; it is stronger than they, even though it is related to the human ego, stronger than all others which can be gained during Earth evolution — still, because it is only the fourth principle, it will be thought of as lower than the fifth, sixth, and seventh, which come from the Luciferic spirits; and especially lower than that which comes from Antichrist.

It is important that, upon the basis of spiritual science, it should be perceived that this is so. In regard to the Copernican theory, which has set the Earth in motion, as it were, has snatched it from the repose in which it had earlier been placed, and has led it around the Sun; which has shown how the Earth is a grain of dust in the universe — in regard to this theory it is asked: How can the Christian idea exist alongside this! A contradiction is constructed between the Christian thought and this natural science, because it is said that in olden times men could look up to the cross on Golgotha and to Christ; for the Earth seemed to them as the place chosen out of all the universe, and the other cosmic bodies seemed small to them, and really existing for the sake of the Earth. The Earth then appeared to man — so it could be said — worthy to bear the cross of Golgotha!

But when the Copernican theory laid hold upon the spirits of men, they began to scoff and to say: The other cosmic bodies must have at least an equal significance with the Earth, so the Christ must have passed from one cosmic body to another; but since the other world bodies are much larger than the Earth, it would really be strange that the God-man should accomplish His work of redemption on the little Earth! A Scandinavian scholar actually said this. He was of the opinion that, with the Christ drama, it was just as if a powerful drama were presented on a little stage in a suburb, or in a village theater, instead of being presented on a great stage in a capital city. He said: “It is absurd that the greatest drama in the world should not be performed upon a great cosmic body. It is exactly as if a great production should not be given in a splendid theater, but in a miserable village theater!”

Such a speech is, of course, very peculiar, but we can reply that the Christian legend has taken care that nothing so foolish could be said; for it has not even laid the scene of this drama in a splendid place on Earth, but only in a poor stable. That fact already shows that no such objection should be made as that of the Scandinavian scholar. People do not consider how inconsequential they are with their peculiarly wise thoughts. The idea has no effect in the presence of the great simple truth which is given in the Christian legend. And if this Christian legend lays the scene of the birth of Jesus not in a splendid, important capital city of the Earth but in a poor stable, then it does not seem absurd that, in contrast to the greatest cosmic bodies, the  Earth should have been chosen as the place to bear the cross. In general the method by which the Christian teaching in its way sets forth what the Christ had to bring to humanity is an indication of that great teaching which spiritual science is to give to us again today.

If we allow the Gospels to work upon us we can search there for the deepest truths of spiritual science, as we have often seen — but how are these great truths contained in the Gospels? Well, I might say that if those people who have not a spark of the Christ Impulse in them are to rise to an understanding of what is in the Gospels, they must absolutely rack their brains — there must even be a certain genius developed! From the fact that so few people understand the spiritual scientific interpretation of the Gospels, even in the smallest degree, it can be gathered that the normal human consciousness is not capable of it.

Through Luciferic forces, with the development of genius, the Gospels can be understood in a purely superficial way; but as they are presented, how do these truths confront us? They come to us as if they gushed forth — the most perfect and highest good — directly from the being of Christ — without effort or exertion of any kind — and speaking in such a way to hearts which allow themselves to be permeated by the Christ Impulse that souls are illuminated and warmed through and through. The way in which the greatest truths are there presented to man is the opposite of the clever method. The method in the Gospels takes account of the fact that in the direct, original, elemental way in which these truths gush forth, perfect, from the fourth macrocosmic principle in Christ Jesus, they pass over immediately to the people. Indeed care has even been taken that the cleverness of man, the sagacity of all the Luciferic in human evolution, shall give much sophistical explanation of these words of Christ, and that we shall only gradually be able to win through to their simplicity and grandeur, to their fundamental character. And as with the words of Christ, so also with the facts concerning Christ.

If we present such a fact, let us say, as the Resurrection, by means which spiritual science provides, what strange fact do we there confront? A very important German Theosophist said, even in the third decade of the 19th century, that it can be seen how the human intellect is being more and more permeated by the Luciferic principle. This was Troxler. He said that the human intellect was utterly Luciferic in all that it comprises. It is generally difficult to make direct reference to the deeper theosophical truths; but those of you who attended my course of lectures in Prague will recall that I referred to Troxler at that time, in order to show how he already knew what can now be taught concerning the human ether body; he said that the human intellect is permeated by the Luciferic forces.

If we today, disregarding the Luciferic forces, will to comprehend the resurrection with good theosophical forces, then we must point to the fact that at the baptism by John in the Jordan something significant occurred: that then the three bodies of the Luke Jesus boy were permeated by the macrocosmic Christ being, Who then lived for three years on Earth, and then these bodies passed through the Mystery of Golgotha with this Christ being. The development of Christ Jesus during the three years was naturally different from that of other men. We must inquire concerning this development, so that, going into fundamental facts, and with the principles of spiritual science, we may comprehend what the resurrection actually was.

Jesus of Nazareth stood by the Jordan. His ego separated from the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body, and the macrocosmic Christ being came down, took possession of these three bodies, and then lived until the 3rd of April of the year 33 — as we have been able to determine. But it was a different kind of life; for, beginning from the baptism, this life of Christ in the body of Jesus of Nazareth was a slow process of dying. With each advancing period of time during these three years something of the sheaths of Jesus of Nazareth died away, so to speak. Slowly these sheaths died, so that after three years the entire body of Jesus of Nazareth was already close to the condition of a corpse, and was only held together by the power of the macrocosmic Christ being.

You must not suppose that this body in which the Christ dwelt was like any other body — let us say a year and a half after the John baptism in the Jordan; it was in such a state that an ordinary human soul would have felt at once that it was falling away from him — because it could only be held together by the powerful macrocosmic Christ being. It was a constant, slow dying, which continued through three years. And this body had reached the verge of dissolution when the Mystery of Golgotha took place. Then it was only necessary that those people mentioned in the narrative should come to the body with their strange preparation of spices and bring about a chemical union between these special substances and the body of Jesus of Nazareth, in which the macrocosmic Christ being had dwelt for three years, and then that they should place it in the grave. Very little was needed then to cause this body to become dust; and the Christ Spirit clothed Himself with an etheric body condensed, one might say, to physical visibility.

So the risen Christ was enveloped in an etheric body condensed to physical visibility; and thus He went about and appeared to those to whom He could appear. He was not visible to everyone, because it was actually only a condensed etheric body which the Christ bore after the resurrection; but that which had been placed in the grave disintegrated and became dust. And according to the latest occult investigations, it is confirmed that there was an earthquake. It was astonishing to me to discover, after I had found from occult investigation that an earthquake had taken place, that this is indicated in the Matthew Gospel. The Earth divided and the dust of the corpse fell in, and became united with the entire substance of theEarth. In consequence of the violent shaking of the Earth, the clothes were placed as they were said to have been found, according to the description in the John Gospel. It is wonderfully described in the Gospel of St. John.

In this way we must understand the Resurrection occultly, and we need not at all come into contradiction with the Gospels. I have often called attention to the fact that Mary Magdalene did not recognize the Christ when He met her. How could one possibly fail to recognize again someone whom he had seen only a few days before, especially if he were such an important personality as Christ Jesus was? If it is said that Mary Magdalene did not know Him, then He must have appeared to her in another form. She recognized Him only when she heard Him speak. Then she became aware of Him.

And all the details of the Gospels are entirely comprehensible occultly.

But someone might say that Thomas was challenged by the risen Christ, when He appeared to the disciples, to feel the scars with his hands ... then it must be supposed that the scars were still there — that Christ had come to the disciples with the same body which had been resolved to dust. No! Imagine that someone has a wound: then the etheric body contracts in a special way and forms a kind of scar. And in the specially contracted ether body, from which were drawn the constituents of the new ether body with which the Christ clothed Himself, these wound-marks were made visible — were peculiarly thickened spots ... so that even Thomas could feel that he was dealing with a reality.

This is a remarkable passage in the occult sense. It does not in any way contradict the fact that we have to do with an etheric body, condensed to visibility by the Christ force; and that then also the Emmaus scene could occur. We find it described in the Gospel not as an ordinary receiving of nourishment, but a dissolution of the food directly by the etheric body, through the Christ forces, without the cooperation of the physical body.

All these things can be understood today through occult principles, on the basis of spiritual science. Apart from the poorly translated passages, the Gospels can be understood literally in a certain way. Everything becomes clear in a wonderful way, and anyone who has grasped this will say to himself, when he notices a contradiction: “I am too stupid for this.” He does not feel that he is so clever as the modern theologians, who say: “We are not able to comprehend the Resurrection as it is described in the Gospels!” ... But we can comprehend it exactly thus, when we understand the principles.

How does all that has now been said work upon the human reason? Well, it affects people in such a way that they say: “If I am to believe the Resurrection, then I shall have to set at naught all that I have gained up till now through my reason. That I cannot do. Therefore the Resurrection must be effaced.” The reason which speaks thus is so permeated by Lucifer that it cannot comprehend these things. Such a reason will come to reject more and more the great, effective, elementary language and facts of earlier times, and those connected with the Mystery of Golgotha. But spiritual science will be called upon to comprehend these things, even to the smallest details. It will not reject that which, as fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, can transcend the fourth macrocosmic principle. Nevertheless, it will see in the fourth macrocosmic principle the greatest impulse which has been given to the Earth evolution.

But from this you see that in a certain way it is not exactly easy to understand the Christ evolution within the Earth, because in a sense the objection is justified that particular spirits, Luciferic spirits, lead up to other principles — but only to microcosmic principles. I expressed that earlier when I said: The Christ is a sort of focal point, in which the being works through His deed, the being works through that which He is. Around about the Christ sit the twelve Bodhisattvas of the world, upon whom streams what flows from the Christ, and who elevate it, in the sense of increased wisdom, to higher principles. But it all flows from the fourth principle — even upon the higher principles — in so far as these are evolved on the Earth.

On this account there is much error with regard to the uniqueness of the Christ, because there is not a clear understanding that in the Christ we have, to be sure, to do with the fourth principle, but with the fourth macrocosmic principle, and even though higher principles can be developed, these are only the microcosmic principles of beings who have not come to full development on the Moon, but who in their way transcend the human. Because they came to unfoldment during the Moon evolution, they developed on their part upon the Moon what human beings must evolve only upon the Earth.

We must rise to an understanding of such things if we would comprehend the true place of the Christ principle within our Earth evolution, if we would clearly see why the Antichrist will in the future be regarded more highly in many respects than the Christ Himself. The Antichrist will perhaps be found to be more clever, possessed of more genius than the Christ; he will win a powerful following; but spiritual scientists should be prepared in advance, so as not to be deceived by what has now been characterized.

More than all else it will be necessary to be firmly established in the good principles of spiritual science, in order not to he deceived in this realm. It was the foremost mission of that esotericism which has been developed in the Occident since the 12th century, and about which much has been said, to work out clearly what is to be said about the nature of the Christ in this regard. So that he who is firmly established in this esotericism will recognize more and more clearly that it is a focal position which the Christ occupies in the Earth evolution.

And concerning all so-called reincarnations of the Christ on our Earth, one can bring forward this quite simple comparison: Just as a balance must be supported at only one point, and not at two or several, so must the Earth evolution have one basic impulse. And anyone who admits several incarnations of the Christ makes the same mistake as he who supposes that scales to function properly must be supported in two places. When this is done, they are no longer scales. And anyone who went about on Earth in several incarnations would no longer be Christ. That is a fact which each well-instructed occultist will urge concerning the nature of Christ. Thus by a simple comparison we may always point to the uniqueness of the Christ nature; and here the Gospels and Spiritual Science are in complete accord.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Emily Dickinson's Haunted House

"Nature is a Haunted House—but Art—a House that tries to be haunted."

The Trinity of Art, Religion, and Science

Rudolf Steiner:  "Art, religion, and science were formerly one, and we should still have a sense of their common origin. This we can have only when there is a return to the spirit in human civilization and human development; when we take seriously the relation existing between man here in his physical existence on Earth and the spiritual world. This knowledge we ought to make our own from the most varied points of view."

Memory and Love: Art in Its Spiritual Nature

Rudolf Steiner, Stuttgart, December 4, 1922:

It gives me great satisfaction to be able to speak to you today on passing through Stuttgart, and I should like to make this an opportunity for discussing several things connected with the last two lectures I have been permitted to give here. I spoke then about man's relation to the spiritual world in so far as knowledge of it can be advanced by bringing to light the processes that go on during sleep without our being conscious of them, and by the illumination that spiritual science can throw on the experiences undergone by man in the spiritual world between death and a new birth.

Today I would like to speak of how man's life on Earth is in a certain sense a reverse image of those experiences. Human life on Earth is understood only when particular expressions of it can be related to their counterparts in the spiritual world, where man spends the major part of his existence.

I would like first to speak of some of the ways in which the human soul expresses itself during earthly life, in so far as they can be related to experiences in the spiritual world. From my last two lectures here you will have gathered that the experiences of the human soul between death and rebirth differ essentially from those between birth and death. Here on Earth a man's experiences are all mediated through his body, be it the physical body or the etheric body. Nothing of what he experiences on Earth can be experienced without the support of the bodily nature. We might easily imagine, for example, that thinking is a purely spiritual act, and that in the way it comes about on Earth in the human soul it has nothing to do with existence in a body. In one sense this is so. But spiritually independent as human thinking is, it could not take its course here in Earth existence were it unable to have the support of the body and its processes. I may avail myself of a comparison which I have often used here on similar occasions. When a man is walking, the ground he walks on is certainly not the essential part of his activity; the essential part is inside his skin; but without the support of the ground he could not get along.

It is the same with thinking. In essence, thinking is certainly not a brain-process, but without the support of the brain it could not take its earthly course. In the light of this comparison one gets a right conception of the spirituality as well as of the physical limitations of human thinking In short, my dear friends, here in earthly life there is nothing in man that does not depend on the body for support. Within the body we carry our organs — lung, heart, brain, and so on. In normal health we have no conscious perception of our internal organs. We perceive them only when they are ill, and then in a very imperfect way. We can never say that we have knowledge of an organ by looking directly at it, unless we are studying anatomy, and then we are not studying a living organ. We can never say that we have the same view of an internal organ that we have of an external object. It is characteristic of earthly life that we do not know the interior of our body by means of ordinary consciousness. Least of all does a man know what he generally considers of most value for his bodily existence — the interior of his head. For when he begins to know anything of it, as a rule the knowledge proves most unpleasant — headache and all that goes with it.

In spiritual life between death and a new birth the exact opposite prevails. There we do really know what is within us. It is as if here on Earth we were not to see trees and clouds outside, but were to look in the main inside ourselves, saying: Here is the lung, here the heart, here the stomach. In the spiritual world we contemplate our own interior. But what we see is the world of spiritual beings, the world we come to know in our anthroposophical literature as the world of the higher hierarchies. That is our inner world. And between death and rebirth we feel ourselves actually to be the whole world — when I speak of the whole it is only figuratively, but it is entirely true — at times we each of us feel ourselves to be the whole world. And at the most important moments of our spiritual existence between death and a new birth we feel within us and experience the world of spiritual beings and are conscious of them. It is just as true that we are conscious there of spirits of the higher world within us as it is true that here on Earth we have no consciousness of our interior, of liver, lungs, and so on. What is most characteristic is that in spiritual experience all our physical experience is reversed. Gradually, through initiation-knowledge, we learn how this is to be understood.

Now, however, there is an essential process — or group of processes — related to this inward living together with the beings of the higher hierarchies. Were we in the spiritual world to perceive inwardly only the world of the higher hierarchies, we would never find ourselves. We would indeed know that various beings were living in us, but we would never become fully aware of ourselves. Hence in our experience between death and a new birth there is a rhythm. It consists in an alternation between our inward contemplation and experience of the world of spiritual beings described in anthroposophical literature, and a damping down of this consciousness. We do the same with the spiritual within us when in physical life we close our eyes and ears and go to sleep. If I may put it like this, we turn our attention from the world of spiritual beings within us and begin to perceive ourselves. Certainly it is as if we were outside ourselves, but we know that this being outside ourselves is what we are. Thus in the spiritual world we alternately perceive ourselves and the world of spiritual beings.

This constantly repeated rhythmical process can be compared with two different things here in physical existence on Earth. It can be compared with in-breathing and out-breathing, and also with sleeping and waking. In physical existence on Earth both these are rhythmical processes; both may be compared with what I have been describing. But with the processes that take place in the spiritual world between death and rebirth, it is not a question of knowing something in a purely abstract way, or — I might add — for the satisfaction of spiritual curiosity; it is a matter of recognizing life on Earth as an image of the super-earthly. And the question necessarily arises: What takes place in earthly life that is like a faculty of memory such as man does not have in ordinary consciousness, a faculty that might be possessed by beings of the hierarchies, archangels? What is there in physical life that is like a memory of living oneself into the world of spiritual beings, or like a memory of experiencing oneself there?

Now, my dear friends, had we no experience between death and a new birth of looking within ourselves and finding there the world of the spirit, down here on Earth there would be no such thing as morals. What we retain of this experience of beings in the spiritual world when we enter life on Earth is an inclination towards the moral life. This inclination is strong in proportion to the clearness with which between death and a new birth a man has experienced his living together with the spirits of the higher world. And anyone who in a spiritually right sense sees into these things knows that immoral men, as a result of their preceding life on Earth, had too dull an experience of this spiritual existence.

But if between death and a new birth we were able to experience only what makes us one with the beings of the higher world, and were never able to experience ourselves, then on Earth it would be impossible for us ever to achieve freedom, consciousness of freedom, consciousness of our personality, which is fundamentally identical with the consciousness of freedom. Thus when on Earth we develop morality and freedom, they are memories of the rhythm we experience in the spiritual world between death and a new birth.

But by directing our gaze to the soul we can speak more exactly of what echoes on in the soul — the becoming one with spiritual beings on the one hand, and on the other our experience of spiritual consciousness of the self. What during earthly life remains in our soul as an echo of the becoming one with the beings of the spiritual world is the capacity for love. This capacity for love is more deeply connected than people think with the moral life. For without the capacity for love there would be no moral life here on Earth; it all arises from the understanding with which we meet the soul of another, and from striving to accomplsh what we do out of this understanding. How we behave to others with selflessness, or how in love we can act morally, are essentially echoes from our life between death and rebirth in common with spiritual beings; and this remains with us after our experience of what one might call loneliness — for so it is felt to be — the lonely experience of our self in the spiritual world. For we do then feel lonely when we, as it were, breathe out. In-breathing is like an experience of spiritual beings; out-breathing like an experience of our self.

But feeling lonely — well, this feeling lonely has its echo here on Earth as our capacity for remembering — our memory. As human beings we should have no memory were it not an echo of what we have described as a feeling of loneliness. We are real individuals in the spiritual world because — I cannot say because we withdraw into ourselves — but because we can liberate ourselves from the higher spirits within us. That makes us independent in the spiritual world. Here on Earth we are independent because we are able to remember our experiences. Just think what would become of your independence if in your thoughts you had always to live in the present. Your remembered thoughts are what make it possible for you to have anything of an inner life. Remembering makes us into personalities here on Earth. And remembering is the echo of what I have described as the experience of loneliness in the spiritual world.

Now why do we come down at all to the physical out of the spiritual world? You may gather from what I said here last time that the forces holding us together with higher spiritual beings grow weaker. Here in physical life we become old because the forces holding us in connection with the physical Earth weaken; over there the forces weaken which hold us in connection with spiritual beings. Above all, those forces weaken that enable us to grasp ourselves within spiritual beings and so to be independent. In the spiritual world, an appreciable time before descending to Earth we lose the capacity for living together with spiritual beings. With the help of spiritual beings we form the spirit-seed of our physical body: this we send down first; then we take up our etheric body and follow after. I pictured this for you in my last lecture. Our capacity for living with spirit-beings in the spiritual world fades out, and we feel how through the forces of the Moon we approach ever nearer to the Earth. We feel ourselves as a self, but continually become less able to comprehend, to maintain, ourselves within spiritual realms; this capacity becomes increasingly feeble. We have a growing feeling that faintness may overcome us in the spiritual world. This creates in us a need for what we can no longer carry within us, the feeling of self, to be supported by something outside, namely our body — a need to be supported by a body.

I might put it thus, that we have gradually to unlearn flying and learn to walk. You understand that I am speaking figuratively, but the picture is in absolute accord with truth, with reality. Thus we find our way into our body. The feeling of loneliness finds a refuge in the body and becomes the faculty of remembering, and we have to win through to a new feeling for community on Earth. This proves to be very significant when with the aid of spiritual science we study the state of sleep.

I described this state of sleep from a certain aspect last time I was here. I now want to add something about the processes mentioned then. I know that such things are easily misunderstood. Over and over again one hears that people are saying: “Last time he described man's experience between going to sleep and waking, and now he is telling us something different about it.” My dear friends, if I tell you what an official experiences in his office, it does not contradict what later I tell you about him in the bosom of his family. The two things go together. So you must be clear that when I tell you of experiences between going to sleep and waking this is not the whole story, just as an official can still have a family life outside his office.

Thus man, between going to sleep and waking, actually experiences a kind of backward repetition of what he accomplished in the course of the day. It is not simply that between going to sleep and waking — the sleep can be quite short, and then things are telescoped together — it is not simply that between going to sleep and waking man has a retrospective view of his experiences during the day, an unconscious view, for naturally it must be unconscious — no, when the soul during sleep becomes really clairvoyant, or when the clairvoyant soul looks back in memory on the experiences between going to sleep and waking, it is seen that man really experiences the going backward of what he has experienced since the last time he woke. If he sleeps through the night in an ordinary way, he goes backward through what he has done by day. The last event takes place immediately on going to sleep, and so on. The whole of his sleep works in a wonderfully regulating way. I can but tell you what can be investigated by spiritual science. When you fall asleep for a quarter of an hour, the beginning of the sleep knows when it will end, and in this quarter of an hour you experience in backward order what you have brought about since last you woke. It is all given its right proportion — marvelous as this may seem. And this backward experience may be said to lie somewhere between reality and semblance.

If one has a memory-picture of something experienced in physical life twenty years before, a healthy, thoughtful person will not take it for a present experience; it is in the nature of the memory-picture itself that we relate it to a past experience. Anyone who looks clairvoyantly into what the soul experiences during sleep in backward order does not connect this with the present; he connects it with the future after death. Just as anyone realizes that his recollection of something experienced twenty years before refers to that past time, so does anyone who clairvoyantly sees into the state of sleep know that what he sees has no significance for the present but foreshadows what is to be experienced after death, when we have to go backwards through all that we have done on Earth. That is why this sleep-picture is half-reality and half-semblance — it is related to the future.

Thus for ordinary consciousness it is an unconscious experience of what man has to live through in what I called in my book Theosophy the soul world. And the intuitive and inspired consciousness described in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds gathers from the observation of sleep what man has to go through during the first stage after death. These things are not mere fabrications; they are plainly observed once the gift of observation has been acquired. Thus, from going to sleep till waking, man lives without his body through what he has done with his body when awake.

We come now to an extraordinarily subtle concept. Just think how from outside we have to live through our deeds again with our ego and our astral body. The capacity to do so is acquired in proportion to the degree of love we unfold. That is the secret of life where love is concerned. If a man is able really to go out of himself in love, loving his nearest as himself, he learns what he needs in sleep for experiencing in reverse, fully and without pain, what has to be experienced in this way. For then he must be quite outside himself. If a man is a loveless being, a feeling arises when, outside himself, he has to experience the actions he performed without love. This hems him in. Loveless persons sleep as if — to use a metaphor — they were short-winded. So it is that whatever we have been able to implant in ourselves through love becomes truly fruitful while we are asleep.

And in what is thus developed between going to sleep and waking, we have something that goes through the gate of death and then lives on further in the spiritual world. It is lost between death and rebirth when we are living together with the spiritual beings of the higher worlds, and we recover it as a seed during earthly life through love. For love discloses its meaning when with his ego and astral body a man in sleep is outside his physical body and etheric body. Between going to sleep and waking his essential being widens if he is full of love and prepares himself well for what is to happen to him after death. If he is loveless and is poorly prepared for what is to happen to him after death, his being narrows. The seed for what happens after death lies pre-eminently in the unfolding of love.

During our life on Earth between birth and death, our memories are extraordinarily fleeting; only pictures remain. Think how little these pictures retain of the events lived through. Just remind yourself of the unspeakable grief experienced at the death of someone very close to you, and imagine vividly the inner condition of soul attendant upon it, and then observe how this appears as an inner experience when after ten years you call it up. It has become a pale, almost abstract shadow. That is what our capacity for recollection is — pale and abstract compared with the full vigor of immediate life.

Why is our recollection thus weak and shadowy? It is indeed the shadow of our experience of self between death and a new birth. Within it is the faculty of remembering, so that it really gives us our existence. That which gives us flesh and blood here on Earth, between death and a new birth gives us the faculty of memory. Over there memory is robust and full-blooded — if I may use such expressions for what is spiritual — then it takes on flesh and becomes weak. When we die, for a few days — I have often described this — the last remnant of memory is still present in the etheric body. If when we go through the gate of death we look back over our past life on Earth, memory fades out. And out of this memory there unwinds what the force of love on Earth has given us as force for life after death.

Thus the force of memory is the heritage we receive from our pre-earthly life, and the force of love is the seed for what we have after death. That is the relation between earthly life and the spiritual world.

Now, my dear friends, I have compared what man experiences in connection with higher beings in the spiritual world, alternating with his experience of the self, with breathing — in-breathing, out-breathing. In our breathing process, and in the processes concerned with speech and song, we can recognize an image of “breathing” in the spiritual world. As I have said, our life in the spiritual world between death and a new birth alternates between contemplation of the inner self, and becoming one with the beings of the higher hierarchies; looking out from within, becoming one with ourself. This goes on like in-breathing and out-breathing. We breathe into ourselves and then breathe ourselves out, and this is of course a spiritual breathing.

Here on Earth this breathing process becomes memory and love. And in fact memory and love also work together here in physical earth-life as a kind of breathing. And if with the eyes of the soul you are able to look at this physical life rightly, you will be able to observe in an important manifestation of breathing — speaking and singing — the physiological working together of memory and love.

Study the child up to the change of teeth. You will observe how the power of recollection, of memory, gradually unfolds. At first it is quite elementary. The child has a certain memory, but it becomes an independent force only towards the time when the teeth change, and is complete in its development when the child is ripe for school. It is only then that we can begin to build upon memory. Earlier than this, by building too much on memory we make the child rigid and create a sclerotic condition of soul for its later life. When dealing with children before the change of teeth, it is a question of their receiving impressions of the present in the right way. It is between the change of teeth and puberty that we may venture to build upon memory.

Today the science of physiology has not reached the point when it can describe in detail the process just pictured. Spiritual science is capable of this and physiological science will certainly follow suit, for these things can be discovered by a close observation of human nature. One may say: When we give out a sound or a note, to begin with the head is engaged. But from the head comes the same faculty that inwardly, in the soul, gives memory, which plays into sound and tone: this comes from above. For anyone to be able to speak without having a faculty of memory is inconceivable. Were we always to forget what is contained in sound or tone, we should never be able to speak or sing. It is precisely embodied memory that lives in tone or sound, on the one hand; on the other hand, for the part played by love, even in its physiological sense, in the breathing process that gives rise to speaking and singing — for this you have clear witness in the full inner volume of tone that comes to the male with puberty, when love finds physiological expression during the second important period of life: this comes from below. There you have the two elements together — from above what lies at the physiological basis of memory — from below what lies at the physiological basis of love: together they form tone in speech and in song. There you have their reciprocal interplay.

In a way it is also a breathing process running through the whole of life. Just as we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, so, united in us we have the force of memory and the force of love, meeting one another in speech, meeting one another in tone. One can say that speaking and singing in man are an alternating interchange of permeation by the force of memory and by the force of love. Herein lies something extraordinarily significant for disclosing the real secret of tone and sound.

Thus there is real truth in what is expressed in the more ancient languages by calling the sum of world forces and world thoughts the Logos. That is the other side, the super-physical side of that which comes to physical expression in speech. We do not only breathe in and breathe out higher beings between death and rebirth, but we also speak, though this speaking is at the same time a singing. In the alternation between going out into the spiritual beings and coming back into ourselves, we speak a spiritual speaking — with the beings of the higher hierarchies. When we are in the state of becoming one with the beings of the spiritual world, we look upon them even though they are within ourselves. When we are free from them again and come to ourselves, then we have the after-effect, then we are ourselves. Over there they express their own being in us: they tell us what they are: the Logos lives in us. On Earth this is reversed; in speech and song our own being is expressed. We express our whole being in the process of out-breathing; whereas when between death and rebirth we release the spirit beings, we have received in the Logos the whole being of the world.

But, my dear friends, the fact is that when we pass over from the spiritual world into the physical we go through the great oblivion. Who with ordinary consciousness sees here in the weak, shadowy force of memory the echo of what we were as self in the spiritual world? Who still recognizes in speech, in the part that comes from memory, the after-vibration of the self? Who recognizes in the plastic forming of speech, in singing and speaking, an echo of beings of the higher hierarchies? Nevertheless is it not true that whoever understands how to listen to speech without taking the meaning into consideration, whoever can give ear to what the tones express through their very nature, has a feeling — particularly if he is artistically inclined — that more is revealed in speaking and singing than what the ordinary consciousness receives?

Why then do we transform ordinary speech that we have here on Earth as a utilitarian faculty — why do we transform it into song by divesting it of its utilitarian function and making it express our own being in declamation, in song? Why do we transform it? What are we doing then?

Now we get the right idea of this if we say: Before descending to Earth you were in the spiritual world and lived there in the way described. The great oblivion came. In what your mouth utters, in what your soul remembers, in how your soul loves, you do not recognize the echo of what you were in the spiritual world. In art, however, we retreat a few steps from life, as it were, and come a few steps nearer to what we were in our pre-natal life and what we shall be in our life after death. And if we are able to recognize how memory is an echo of what we had in pre-earthly life, and how the unfolding of love is the seed of what we shall have after death, if through spirit-knowledge we picture the past and the future of human existence, in art we call up into the present — as far as this is possible for man within his physical organization — we call up into the present what unites us to the spirit.

That is the essential glory of art: it takes us by simple means into the spiritual world in the immediate present. Anyone who is able to look into the inner life of man will say: Generally a man remembers only the things he has experienced in the course of his present earthly life. But the force through which he remembers these earthly experiences is the weakened force of his existence as a self in pre-earthly life. And the love that he is able to unfold here as a universal love of humanity is the weakened force of the seed which will come to fruition after death. And as in song and in declamatory speech there must be united what a man is, through memory, with what he can give the world, through love, so it is in all art. A man may experience a harmony of the self with what is outside, but unless he is capable of showing outwardly what is within him — be it in tone, painting, or any other branch of art — of showing on the surface what he is, what life has made of him, what is the essential content of his memory, he can be no artist.

Neither is he a true artist who in a pronounced way is impelled to be an egotist in his art. Only those who are disposed to open out to the world, who become one with their fellows, who unfold love, can unite this unfolding of love closely with their own being. Altruism and egotism unite in one stream. They flow together naturally and most intimately in the sounding arts, but they flow together also in the plastic arts. And when through a certain deepening of our forces of knowledge there is revealed to us how man is connected with a supersensible world where past and future are concerned, we can also say that man has a present foretaste of this connection in his creation and enjoyment of art. Actually art never acquires its full value if it is not to some extent in accord with religion. Not that it has to be sanctimonious — even art in a jovial mood can have this accord.

Ample proof of this lies in the way art has developed. Originally it was one with religious life. In primitive ages of mankind it was woven into religious cults. The images men formed of their gods was the source of plastic art. As an instance of this let us recall the Samothracean Mysteries alluded to by Goethe in the second part of his Faust, where he speaks of the Kabiri. [See the lecture-cycle “Goetheanism as an impulse for man's transformation,” Dornach, January 1919.] In my studio in Dornach I tried to make a picture of these Kabiri. And what came of it? It was something very interesting. I simply set myself the task of puzzling out intuitively how the Kabiri must have appeared in the Samothracean Mysteries. And just imagine this: I arrived at three pitchers, but pitchers, it is true, shaped plastically and in accordance with art. At first I astonished myself, although Goethe actually spoke of pitchers. The matter became clear to me only when I found that these pitchers stood on an altar: then something in the nature of incense was put into them, the sacrificial words were sung, and from the power of the sacrificial words — which in the more ancient times of mankind had a force of vibratory stimulus quite different from anything possible today — the smoke of the incense was formed into the desired image of the divinity. Thus in the ritual you had the accompanying chant immediately expressing itself plastically in the smoke of the incense.

Mankind had truly drawn art from the religious life. And Schiller is right in saying: “Only through the dawn of beauty do you press on into the land of knowledge,” which you generally find quoted in books as “Only through the door of beauty do you press on into the land of knowledge.” If an artist makes a slip of the pen, it gets handed down to posterity. The right reading, of course, is: “Only through the dawn of beauty do you press on into the land of knowledge.” In other words — all knowledge comes through art. Fundamentally, there is no knowledge that is not intimately related to art. It is only the knowledge connected with externals, with usefulness, which appears to have no connection with art. But this knowledge can extend only to what in the world a mere color-grinder would know of painting. As soon as in chemistry or physics one goes beyond — I am speaking figuratively but you will know what I mean — what mere color-grinding implies, science becomes art. And when the artistic is grasped in its spiritual nature in the right way, it gradually passes over into the religious.

Art, religion, and science were formerly one, and we should still have a sense of their common origin. This we can have only when there is a return to the spirit in human civilization and human development; when we take seriously the relation existing between man here in his physical existence on Earth and the spiritual world. This knowledge we ought to make our own from the most varied points of view.

Today I wished to deal with one of these points of view, my dear friends, so that from a certain aspect you may have a picture of how man is connected with the spiritual world. I hope that we shall be able to go on enlarging these studies in a not too distant future.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Two Guardians of the Threshold

"Fundamentally speaking, the two 'Guardians of the Threshold'--figures which seem so extraordinary to many people--are simply presentations, but at a very high spiritual level, of the Christian experiences of 'Repentance' and 'Faith.'" --Friedrich Rittelmeyer

The Human Double: The Doppelgänger

Rudolf Steiner:  "It may shock you to hear of another spiritual being inhabiting the human body, concerning that entity known to spiritual science as the double or Dopplegänger, but in biology lessons we are not shocked to learn how many other inhabitants from the animal, plant, and mineral kingdoms also cohabit our physical bodies. Just as we have discovered the bacteria and fungi rather recently, so we have rediscovered the Doppelgänger ... It is part of the physiological behavior of these beings to move into the human body shortly before we are born and to accompany us from then on beneath the threshold of consciousness with their cleverness and their strong nature-bound will."

Monday, June 27, 2011


From a lecture by Rudolf Steiner given July 18, 1923:

"It takes inner work to really penetrate into the spiritual world, and for this kind of work the contemporary, educated world is too lazy.... People believe that these things have to be given to them outwardly, not that they have to work and conquer them inwardly. This indeed is in keeping with what people nowadays want--they want everything to be ready-made for them. As I have mentioned to you already, human beings these days want to put everything on film. They want to make a film of everything so that they can look at everything from the outside. If we want to make progress--real progress, spiritually--we must make sure that no matter what we take up from the world, we will work it through. Therefore, in the future, people will penetrate most deeply into the spiritual world who will as much as possible avoid having everything on film for their comfort. Rather they should choose to think everything through for themselves, to think along, so that when people tell them things about the world they will be participants in the thinking."

Police Slog Through 40,000 Insipid Party Pics To Find Cause Of Dorm Fire

Isaiah 6

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,

And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

Sup on this

Emil Bock:  "The present era is forgetting the way to read books. People seize upon pictures to look at; they want to look, not think. The approaching supersensible world nowadays manifests itself in the urge to look at pictures. The feeling for images, the ability to look, will be the beginning, the first stratum in experiencing a spiritual world that is drawing nearer to us all the time. When someone longs for a world of images, for the picture, that person is longing for the supersensible world, even though he may not know it. He is entering into the hidden recesses of his own personality. . . . As long as the pictorial sense is not awake, just so long will the gospel remain closed to modern humanity. In the external world people have acquired the ability to think. They enter the inner recesses with that power. Thought is not the key to the world of images, where slumbers revelation of an exalted region. Modern man is in the same situation as Faust. He has deserted the outer world; the inner world has not yet been unlocked.

If mankind does find the gospel, then people will find the rich content of the inner world. And they can find the gospel when they come to love the image and understand it. Pictures, images, are letters of the writings in which revelation speaks to us of things beyond this earth. To understand the gospel is the need of the present hour. When intellectual thought fails, the picture is the key. A general attitude of mind such as this is needed all the time if, later on, a new understanding of the gospel is actually to bear its fruits towards reshaping life."

Source: Studies in the Gospels, volume 1, pp. 136-137

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Yea, so it is.

From "The Act of Consecration of Man":

An almighty divine being, spiritual-physical, is the ground of existence of the heavens and of the Earth, who goes before His creatures like a Father.

Christ, through whom human beings attain the re-enlivening of the dying Earth existence, is to this divine being as the Son born in eternity.

In Jesus, the Christ entered as Man into the earthly world.

The birth of Jesus upon Earth is a working of the Holy Spirit, who, to heal spiritually the sickness of sin within the bodily nature of Mankind, prepared the son of Mary to be the vehicle of the Christ.

The Christ Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate the death on the cross, and was lowered into the grave of the Earth.

In death, He became the helper of the souls of the dead who had lost their divine nature.

Then He overcame death after three days.

Since that time, He is the Lord of the heavenly forces upon Earth, and lives as the fulfiller of the Fatherly deeds of the ground of the world.

He will in time unite for the advancement of the world with those whom, through their bearing, he can wrest from the death of matter.

Through Him can the Healing Spirit work.

Communites whose members feel the Christ within themselves may feel united in a church to which all belong who are aware of the health-bringing power of the Christ.

They may hope for the overcoming of the sickness of sin, for the continuance of Man's being, and for the preservation of their life destined for eternity.

Yea, so it is.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sunburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Trinity: Father, Mother, and Son

Rudolf Steiner, October 12, 1923:

"Above, illuminated as it were by the power of Uriel's eyes, the Dove. The silver-sparkling blue below, arising from the depths of the earth and bound up with human weakness and error, is gathered into a picture of the Earth Mother. Whether she is called Demeter or Mary, the picture is of the Earth Mother. So it is that in directing our gaze downwards we cannot do otherwise than bring together in Imagination all those secrets of the depths which go to make up the Earth Mother of all existence; while in all that is concentrated in the flowing form above we feel and experience the Spirit Father of everything around us. And now we behold the outcome of the working together of Spirit Father with Earth Mother, bearing so beautifully within itself the harmony of the earthly silver and the gold of the heights. Between the Father and the Mother we behold the Son. Thus there arises this Imagination of the Trinity which is really the Saint John Imagination. The background of it is Uriel, the creative, admonishing Uriel."

Source: The Four Seasons and the Archangels, p. 51