Friday, September 30, 2011

The only thing we may bring into the spiritual world is thoughts.

Rudolf Steiner, November 13, 1909:

"What is it that can prevent one from losing vision altogether on entering actually into the spiritual world? The seed that can spring up out of thinking! Thoughts afford the substance whereby what is in the spiritual world may be comprehended. We acquire the power really to live in the spiritual world by comprehending, in our world of the senses, what is no longer permeated by sense-elements and yet is on the physical plane. Thoughts alone fulfill this condition. The only thing we may bring into the spiritual world is thoughts."

Life After Death

Rudolf Steiner, Paris. May  23, 1924: [Lecture 1 of 3]

In these three lectures I want to speak of how Anthroposophy can live as knowledge of the spiritual in the world and in man — knowledge that is able to kindle inner forces and impulses in the moral and religious life of soul. Because this will always be possible, Anthroposophy can bring to mankind something altogether different from anything produced by the civilization of the last few centuries. This civilization has actually suffered from the diffusion of brilliant forms of knowledge: natural science, economics, philosophy. But all this knowledge is a concern of the head alone, whereas moral-religious impulses must spring from the heart. True, these impulses have existed as ideals; but whether these ideals and the feelings associated with them are also powerful enough to create worlds of the future when the present physical world has passed away is a question unanswerable by modern science. What has sprung from modern science is the widespread doubt that is characteristic of the present age and the age just past.
To begin with I want to consider three aspects of man's life. We ourselves, our destiny, are inextricably connected with this life from birth to death. Birth, or rather conception, is the boundary in one direction; death is the boundary in the other. Birth and death are not life; they are merely the beginning and the end of physical life. And the question is this: Can birth and death in themselves be approached with the same mental attitude with which we contemplate our own life, or the life of others, between birth and death, or must our approach to the actual boundaries of birth and death be from a different vantage point? Therefore the aspect of death, which so significantly sets a boundary to human life, shall be the first object of our study today.
At the end of a man's earthly life he is divested by death of the physical body we see before us. The Earth takes possession of it, either through its own elements as in burial, or through fire as in cremation. What can the Earth do with the part of man we perceive with physical senses? The Earth can do no other than subject it to destruction. Think of the forces in nature around us. They build up nothing when the human corpse is given over to them; they simply destroy it. The nature forces around us are not there for the purpose of upbuilding, for the human body disintegrates when it passes into their grasp. Hence there must be something different which builds up the human body, something different from earthly forces, for they bring about its disintegration.
If, however, human death is studied with forces of cognition activated in the soul through the appropriate exercises, everything presents a different aspect. With ordinary faculties of cognition we see the corpse and nothing else. But when, by means of these exercises, we develop Imagination — the first stage of higher knowledge described in my books — then death is completely transformed. In death man tears himself from the grasp of the Earth; and if we cultivate Imagination we see in direct vision, in living pictures, that in death man rises from his corpse — he does not die. At the stage of Imaginative knowledge, physical death is transformed into spiritual birth. Before death, man stands there as earthly man. He can say: “I am here, at this place; the world is outside me.” — But the moment death occurs, the man himself is not where his corpse lies. He is beginning his existence in the wide spaces of the Universe; he is becoming one with the world at which he has hitherto only gazed. The world outside his body now becomes his field of experience and therewith what hitherto was inner world becomes outer world, what hitherto was outer world becomes inner world. We pass out of our personal existence into world-existence. The Earth — so it appears to Imaginative cognition — makes it possible for us to undergo death. The Earth is revealed to Imaginative cognition as the bearer of death in the Universe. Nowhere except on Earth is death to be found in any sphere frequented by man, whether in physical or spiritual life. For the moment man passes through death and becomes one with the Universe, the second aspect presents itself — the aspect in which the widths of space appear to be everywhere filled with cosmic thoughts. For Imaginative vision and for the man himself who has passed through death, the whole Cosmos now teems with cosmic thoughts, living and weaving in the expanse of space. The space aspect becomes the great revealer. Having passed through death man enters a world of cosmic thoughts; everything works and weaves in cosmic thoughts. This is the second aspect.
When we confront a man in earthly life, he is there before us in the first place as a personality. He must speak if we are to know his thoughts. So we say: “The thoughts are within him; they are conveyed to us through his speech.” But nowhere within the perimeter of earthly life do we discover thoughts which stand alone. They are present only in men, and they come out of men. When we pass from the earthly sphere of death to the space sphere of thoughts, to begin with we encounter no beings in the widths of space — neither gods nor men — but everywhere we encounter cosmic thoughts. Having undergone death and passed into the expanse of universal space it is as though in the physical world we were to meet a man and perceive only his thoughts without seeing the man himself. We should see a cloud of thoughts. After death we do not at first encounter beings; we encounter thoughts: the universal World Intelligence.
In this sphere of cosmic Intelligence man lives for a few days after his death. And in the weaving cosmic thoughts there appears as it were a single cloud in which he sees the record of his last earthly life. This record is inscribed into the cosmic Intelligence. For a few days he beholds his whole life in one great, simultaneous tableau. During these few days what is inscribed into the cosmic Intelligence becomes steadily fainter and fainter. The record expands into cosmic space and vanishes. Whereas at the end of earthly life the aspect of death appears, a few days after the end of this experience there comes the vanishing into cosmic space. Thus, after the first aspect, which we may call the aspect of death, we have the second aspect, which may be called the aspect of the vanishing of earthly life. After death there is actually for every human being a moment of terrible fear that he may lose himself, together with all his earthly life, in cosmic space.
If we wish for more understanding of man's experiences after death, Imaginative knowledge will be found to be inadequate; we must pass on to the second stage of higher knowledge, to Inspiration. Imaginative knowledge has pictures before it — pictures that are in the main like dream pictures, except that we can never feel convinced of any reality behind the latter, whereas the pictures of Imagination, through their own inherent quality, always express reality. Through Imagination we live in a picture world that is nevertheless reality. This picture world must be transcended if we are to see what a man experiences after death when the few days during which he reviewed his life have passed.
Inspiration, which must be acquired after or during the stage of Imagination, presents no pictures; instead of pictures there is spiritual hearing. Knowledge through Inspiration absorbs cosmic Intelligence, cosmic thoughts, in such a way that they seem to be spiritually heard. From all sides the cosmic word resounds, indicating distinctly that there is reality behind it. First comes the proclamation; then, when a man can give himself up to this Inspiration, he begins, in Intuition, to perceive behind the cosmic thoughts the beings of the Universe themselves. Pictures of the spiritual are perceived in Imagination; in Inspiration the spiritual speaks; Intuition perceives the  beings themselves. I said that the world is filled with cosmic thoughts. These in themselves do not at once point to beings; but we eventually become aware of words behind the thoughts, and then of beholding, through Intuition, the  beings of the Universe.
The first aspect of man's existence is the aspect of death; it is the earthly aspect. The second aspect leads us out into cosmic space, into which, as earthly men, we otherwise gaze without any understanding; this is the aspect of the vanishing of man's life. The third aspect presents the boundary of visible space; this is the aspect of the stars. But the stars do not appear as they do to physical sight. For physical sight the stars are points of radiance at the boundaries of the space in the direction towards which we are looking. If we have acquired the faculty of Intuitive knowledge, the stars are the revealers of cosmic beings, spiritual beings. And with Intuition we behold in the spiritual Universe, instead of the physical stars, colonies of spiritual beings at the places where we conceive the physical stars to be situated. The third aspect is the aspect of the stars. After we have learnt to know death, after we have recognized cosmic Intelligence through the widths of space, this third aspect leads us into the spheres of cosmic spiritual beings and thereby into the sphere of the stars. And just as the Earth has received man between birth and death, so, when he has crossed the abyss to cosmic Intelligence a few days after his death, he is received into the world of stars. On Earth he was a man of Earth among Earth beings; after death he becomes a being of Heaven among heavenly beings.
The first sphere into which man enters is the Moon-sphere; later on he passes into the other cosmic spheres. At the moment of death he still belongs to the Earth-sphere. But at that moment, everything within the range of earthly knowledge loses its significance. On the Earth there are different substances, different metals, and so on. At the moment of death all this differentiation ceases. All external solid substances are earthy; at the moment of death man is living in earth, water, air, and warmth. In the sphere of cosmic Intelligence he sees his own life; he is between the region of Earth and the region of Heaven. A few days after death he enters the region of Heaven: first, the Moon-sphere.
In this Moon-sphere we meet cosmic beings for the first time. But these cosmic beings are still rather like human beings, for at one time they were together with us on the Earth. In my books you can read how the physical Moon was once united with the Earth and then separated from it to form an independent cosmic body. It was, however, not the physical Moon alone that separated from the Earth. At one time there were among men on Earth great, primeval teachers; it was they who brought the primordial wisdom to mankind. These great teachers were not present on Earth in physical human bodies, but only in etheric bodies. When a man received instruction from them, he absorbed it inwardly. After a time, when the Moon separated from the Earth, these ancient teachers went with it and formed a colony of Moon beings. These primeval teachers of mankind, long since separated from the Earth, are the first cosmic beings to be encountered a few days after death.
The life spent with the Moon beings during this period after death is related in a remarkable way to earthly existence. It might be imagined that man's life after death is more fleeting, less concrete, than earthly life. In a certain respect, however, this is not the case. If we are able to follow a man's experiences after death with supersensible vision we find that for a long time they have a much stronger effect upon him than anything in the earthly life, which in comparison is like a dream. This period after death lasts for about a third of the time of life on Earth What is now experienced differs with different individuals. When a man looks back over his earthly life he succumbs to illusion. He sees only the days, and pays no heed to what he has experienced spiritually in sleep. Unless he is particularly addicted to sleep a man will, as a general rule, spend about a third part of his life in that state. After death he goes through it all in conscious connection with the Moon beings. We live through these experiences because the great primeval teachers of mankind pour the essence of their being into us, live in and with us; we live through the unconscious experiences of the nights on Earth as reality far greater than that of the earthly life.
Let me illustrate this by an example. Perhaps some of you know my Mystery Plays and will remember among the characters a certain Strader. Strader is a figure based upon a personality who is now dead but was alive when the first three Plays were written. It was not a matter of portraying his earthly life, but the character was founded on the life of a man who was exceptionally interesting to me. Coming from comparatively simple circumstances, he first became a priest, then abandoned the Church and became a secular scholar with a certain rationalistic trend. The whole of this man's inner struggle interested me. I tried to understand it spiritually and wrote the Mystery Plays while watching his earthly life. After his death the interest I had taken in him enabled me to follow him during the period of existence he spent in the Moon-sphere. Today (1924) he is still in that sphere. From the moment this individuality broke through to me with all the intense reality of the life after death, whatever interest I once had in his earthly life was completely extinguished. I was now living with this individuality after his death, and the effect upon me was that I could do no other than allow the character in the fourth Mystery Play to die, because he was no longer before me as an earthly man. This is quoted merely in corroboration of the statement that experience of the life after death has far greater intensity, greater inner reality, than the earthly life; the latter is like a dream in comparison.
We must remember that after death man passes into the great Universe, into the Cosmos. He himself now becomes the Cosmos. He feels the Cosmos as his body — but he also feels that what was outside him during his earthly life is now within him. Take a simple example. Suppose you were once carried away by emotion during your earthly life and had struck someone a blow which caused him not only physical pain but also moral suffering. Under the influence of the Moon beings after death you experience this incident differently. When you struck an angry blow, perhaps with a certain inner satisfaction, you did not feel the suffering of the man you struck. Now, in the Moon-sphere, you experience the physical pain and the suffering he had to endure. In the Moon-sphere you experience what you did or thought during your earthly life, not as you felt it, but as it affected the other person. After death, for a period corresponding to a third part of his lifetime, a man lives through, in backward order, everything that he thought and whatever wrong he did during his earthly life. It is revealed to him by the Moon beings as intense reality. When I was inwardly accompanying Strader, for instance, in his life after death — he died in 1912 and is called Strader in the Mystery Plays although that was not his real name — he was experiencing first what he had experienced last in his earthly life, then the earlier happenings, and so on, in backward order. When he now comes before my soul he is living through in the Moon-sphere what he had experienced in the year 1875. Up to now he has been experiencing backwards the time between 1912 and 1875 and will continue in this way until the date of his birth.
This life after death in the sphere of the Moon beings — who were once Earth beings — is lived through for a third of the time of a man's life. The first seed of what is fulfilled as karma in the following earthly lives arises here. In this life, which corresponds to a third part of his earthly lifetime, a man becomes inwardly aware, through his own feeling and perception, of how his deeds have affected others. And then a strong desire arises within him as spirit man that what he is now experiencing in the Moon-sphere as the result of his dealings with other men on Earth may again be laid upon him, in order that compensation may be made. The resolve to fulfill his destiny in accordance with his earthly deeds and earthly thoughts comes as a wish at the end of the Moon period. And if this wish — which arises from experience of the whole of the earthly life back to birth — is devoid of fear, the man is ready to be received into the next sphere, the Mercury-sphere, into which he then passes. In the Mercury-sphere he is instructed by the beings whose realm he has entered — beings who have never been on Earth, who were always supersensible beings; in their realm he learns how to shape his further destiny. Thus, to learn what a man goes through between death and a new birth, corresponding in his spiritual existence to what he experienced among earthly beings between birth and death, we must follow him through the Mercury-sphere, the Venus-sphere, and the Sun-sphere. For the totality of man's life consists in the earthly existence between birth and death and the heavenly existence between death and a new birth. This constitutes his life in its totality, and of this we will speak in the next lectures.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grasping the hands of the Archangel Michael

Rudolf Steiner, December 17, 1922:   'The science which as anthroposophical spiritual science again spiritualizes spatial thinking, lifts it again into the supersensible--this spiritual science works from below upwards, stretches out its hands as it were from below upwards to grasp the hands of Michael stretching down from above. It is then that the bridge can be created between us and the gods.'

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Full faith and confidence: what Michael expects of us

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given September 28, 1923:

"This ability to rise to the point at which thoughts about spirit can grip us as powerfully as can anything in the physical world, this is Michael power. It is confidence in the ideas of spirit — given the capacity for receiving them at all — leading to the conviction: I have received a spiritual impulse, I give myself up to it, I become the instrument for its execution. First failure — never mind! Second failure — never mind! A hundred failures are of no consequence, for no failure is ever a decisive factor in judging the truth of a spiritual impulse whose effect has been inwardly understood and grasped. We have full confidence in a spiritual impulse, grasped at a certain point of time, only when we can say to ourself: My hundred failures can at most prove that the conditions for realizing the impulse are not given me in this incarnation; but that this impulse is right I can know from its own nature. And if I must wait a hundred incarnations for the power to realize this impulse, nothing but its own nature can convince me of the efficacy or impotence of any spiritual impulse.
     If you will imagine this thought developed in the human heart and soul as great confidence in spirit, if you will consider that man can cling firm as a rock to something he has seen to be spiritually victorious, something he refuses to relinquish in spite of all outer opposition, then you will have a conception of what the Michael power, the Michael being, really demands of us; for only then will you comprehend the nature of full faith and confidence in spirit. We may leave in abeyance some spiritual impulse or other, even for a whole incarnation; but once we have grasped it we must never waver in cherishing it within us, for only thus can we save it up for subsequent incarnations. And when confidence in spirit will in this way have established a frame of mind to which this spiritual substance appears as real as the ground under our feet — the ground without which we could not stand — then we shall have in our heart and soul a feeling of what Michael really expects of us."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why have the Gods allowed human beings to exist at all?

Rudolf Steiner, November 13, 1909:

"Why have the Gods allowed human beings to exist at all? Because it was only in human beings that they could cause faculties to develop which otherwise could not have been developed at all. The power to think, to picture something in thoughts in which there is the quality of discrimination — this faculty can be developed only on this our Earth; formerly it did not exist, it could only come about through the fact of the existence of human beings. We might take the following comparison. — Suppose you have a grain of corn — of wheat, let us say. However long you look at it, no wheat will grow out of it. You must put it in the soil and let it grow, you must let the growth-forces work upon it. That which the divine-spiritual Beings had before the formation of man may be compared to the grain of wheat. If this “grain of wheat” was to come to life in the form of thoughts, it had first to be cultivated by human beings on the physical plane. The only possible means of cultivating thoughts on the Earth from the higher world is through human incarnations. So that the thoughts of men on the physical plane have a character which is entirely their own and must lead up to what is possible in the higher worlds. It was necessary for the Gods that there should be men on the Earth. The Gods allowed men to come into being in order to preserve through them in the form of thought what they had had in the higher worlds. Thus what comes down from the higher worlds would never have taken form in thought if man had not been able to give it this form. And he who will not think on the Earth deprives the Gods of what they have reckoned upon, and he cannot accomplish what is his real human task and destiny upon Earth. For he can only attain this in an incarnation wherein he really labors at the development of his powers of thought. If this is realized, all the rest follows from it."

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Understanding Karma. The Goal of Yoga : Spirit-Radiance : Manas" -- Focus lecture for the January 25 meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Ex Deo Nascimur       In Christo Morimur       Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner, Whitsuntide 1924:

"Let us now imagine first of all the inner mood of a man's soul to be such that he shuts himself up entirely within this Earth-existence. He can still feel the Divine, for out of the Divine he is born: Ex Deo Nascimur. Then let us imagine him no longer shutting himself up within the mere world of Space, but receiving the Christ who came from the world of Time into the world of Space, who brought Time itself into the earthly Space. If a man does this, then in Death he will overcome Death. Ex Deo Nascimur. In Christo Morimur. But Christ Himself brings the message that when Space is overcome and one has learned to recognize the Sun as the creator of Space, when one feels oneself transplanted through Christ into the Sun, into the living Sun, then the earthly Physical vanishes and only the Etheric and the Astral are there. Now the Etheric comes to life, not as the blue of the sky, but as the lilac-red gleaming radiance of the Cosmos, and forth from the reddish light the stars no longer twinkle down upon us but gently touch us with their loving effluence.
      If a man really enters into all this, he can have the experience of himself, standing here upon the Earth, the Physical put aside, but the Etheric still with him, streaming through and out of him in the lilac-reddish light. No longer now are the stars glimmering points of light; they are radiations of love like the caressing hand of a human being. As we feel all this — the divine within ourselves, the divine cosmic fire flaming forth from within us as the very being of man; ourselves within the Etheric world and experiencing the living expression of the Spirit in the Astral cosmic radiance — there bursts forth within us the inner awakening of the creative radiance of Spirit, which is man's high calling in the Universe."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And the Temple Becomes Man


And the Building becomes Man
Und der Bau wird Mensch

These are the last words which echo in our ears when the Dornach Speech Chorus declaims the so-called “Fensterworte” — that is to say, the motifs of the windows in the Goetheanum expressed in the form of thoughts. This lecture of  December 12, 1911 contains the fullest and most detailed account of what Rudolf Steiner said on so many occasions about the evolution of the Art of Building and its changing styles. He gives us pictures of happenings in the spiritual life of the Cosmos and in the life of the human soul which express themselves in the forms of sacred buildings and give birth to new forms as the evolution of humanity advances. The forms of architecture were created by the forces which ray down from the Heavens to the Earth and work in the aspiring souls of men. And in the future, too, the supersensible will impress itself into the Material through new forms which through metamorphoses from within finally come to expression in accordance with the stage of culture attained.

The original intention was to call the first Goetheanum the “Johannesbau.” This great building of wood, with its hand-carved, weaving forms and flowing color-effects, was ultimately destroyed by fire. Those who initiated such a courageous plan had chosen the name because the central figure in Rudolf Steiner's Mystery Plays — the aspirant for spiritual knowledge — is called Johannes Thomasius. The bareness and inadequate accommodation of the theatre rented in Munich for performances of these Mystery Plays had brought from the spectators an urgently expressed wish for a building that would be worthy of the spiritual grandeur of the Plays and the lectures, and would provide space for the rapidly increasing number of visitors. These were the circumstances in which the name was chosen by the Association formed for the purpose of carrying this plan to fulfilment, and at the first General Meeting of the “Johannesbau-Verein” in Berlin, Rudolf Steiner gave the following lecture which opens up for us a vista of the supersensible foundation of the Art of Building and foreshadows its future possibilities.



In the building that is to be a home for Spiritual Science, full account must be taken of the evolutionary conditions and necessities of mankind as a whole. And unless this demand is fulfilled, the aim of such a building will not be achieved. In an undertaking like this we have a deep responsibility to the laws of the spiritual life, the spiritual powers and the conditions of human evolution of which we have a certain knowledge; and above all we must be mindful of the judgment which future times will pass upon us. In the present cycle of human evolution, this responsibility is altogether different from what it was in times gone by.

Great and mighty creations of art and of culture through the ages have many things to tell us. In a beautiful and impressive lecture this morning,* you heard how the creations of art and of culture help us to understand the inner constitution and attitude of the human soul in earlier times.
* Lecture by Dr. Ernst Wagner: “Works of Art as Records of the Evolution of Humanity.”

Now, there is a certain reason why the responsibility of those who shared in the creation of ancient works of art was made easier than it is for us today. In ancient times, human beings had at their disposal means of help which are no longer available in our epoch. The Gods let their forces stream into the unconscious or subconscious life of the soul; and in a certain sense it is an illusion to believe that in the brains or souls of the men who built the Pyramids of Egypt, the Temples of Greece, and other great monuments human thoughts alone were responsible for the impulses and aims expressed in the forms, the colors, and so on. For in those times the Gods themselves were working through the hands, the heads, and the hearts of men.

The Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch already lies in the far past and our age is the first period of time in which the Gods put man's own free, spiritual activity to the test. True, the Gods do not refuse their help, but they vouchsafe it only when by the strength of aspiration developed in the soul through a number of incarnations, men make themselves worthy to receive the forces streaming to them from above. What we ourselves have to create is essentially new — in the sense that we must work with forces differing altogether from those in operation in bygone times. We have to create out of the free activity of our own human souls. The hallmark of our age is consciousness — it is the epoch of the Consciousness Soul, the Spiritual Soul. And if the future is to receive from us such works of culture and of art as we have received from the past, we must create out of full and clear consciousness, free from any influence arising from the subconscious life. That is why we must open our minds and hearts to thoughts which shed light upon the task ahead of us. Only if we know upon what laws and fundamental spiritual impulses our work must be grounded, only if what we do is in line and harmony with the evolutionary forces operating in mankind as a whole — only then will achievement be within our reach ... And now let us turn to certain fundamental ideas which can make our work fruitful — for what we have to create must be basically, and in its very essence, new.

In a certain sense our intention is to build a Temple which is also to be a place of teaching — as were the ancient Temples of the Mysteries. Buildings erected to enshrine what men have held most sacred have always been known as Temples. You have already heard how the life of the human soul in the different epochs came to expression in the temple-buildings. When with insight and warmth of soul we study these buildings, differences are at once apparent. A very striking example is afforded by the forms of temples belonging to the Second Post-Atlantean epoch of culture. Outwardly, at any rate, very little is left of these temples of the ancient Persian epoch, and their original form can only be dimly pictured or reconstructed from the Akasha Chronicle. Something reminiscent of their forms did indeed find its way into the later temples of the third epoch, into Babylonian-Assyrian architecture and above all into the temples of Asia Minor, but only to the extent that the structure of these later buildings was influenced by the conditions obtaining in that region of the Earth.

What was the most striking and significant feature of this early art of building? Documentary records have little information to give on the subject. But if, assuming that investigation of the Akasha Chronicle itself is not possible, we study the buildings of a later epoch, gleaning from them some idea of what the earlier temples in that part of the world may have been, it will dawn upon us that in these very ancient temples everything depended upon the facade, upon the impression made by the frontage of the temple upon those who approached its portals. A man who made his way through this facade into the interior of the temple would have felt: “The facade spoke to me in a secret, mysterious language. In the interior of the temple I find everything that was striving to express itself in the façade.” He would have felt this no matter whether he came as a layman or as one who had to some extent been initiated.

If we now turn from these temples — the character of which can only be dimly surmised by those unable to read the Akasha Chronicle — if we now turn to the temples, the pyramids, or other sacred monuments of Egypt, we find something altogether different. Sphinxes and symbolic figures of mystery and grandeur stand before us as we approach an ancient Egyptian temple; even the obelisks are enigmas. The Sphinx and the Pyramids are riddles — so much so that the German philosopher Hegel spoke of this Art as the “Art of the Riddle.” The upward-rising form of the pyramid in which there is scarcely an aperture, seems to enshrine a mystery; from outside at any rate, a façade is indicated only in the form of a riddle presented to us. In the interior, as well as information on manifold secrets contained in the ancient mystery-scripts or what later took their place, we find indications in the innermost sanctuary of how the hearts and souls of men were led to the God who dwelt in deep concealment within the temple. The building enshrines the most sacred Mystery — the Mystery of the God. The pyramids, too, are shrines around the holiest secret of humanity, namely Initiation. These buildings shut themselves off from the outer world, together with the Mystery they contain.

Passing now to the temples of Greece, we find that they retain the basic principle of many Egyptian temples in that we have to think of the Greek temple as the dwelling place of the Divine-Spiritual; but the outer structure itself indicates a further stage. In its wonderful expression of dynamic power, of inner forces weaving in the forms, it is whole and complete, intrinsically perfect — an infinitude in itself. The Greek God dwells within the temple. In this building, with its columns which in themselves reveal their function as ‘bearers’ capable of supporting what lies upon them, the God is enshrined in something that is whole and perfect in itself; an infinitude is here embodied, within Earth-existence. This is expressed in the whole form and in every detail of the building.

The idea of the temple as an expression of all that is most precious to man is embodied in the Christian temple or church. Such buildings, erected originally over a grave, indeed over the grave of the Redeemer, culminate in the spire which tapers upwards to the heights. Here we have before us the expression of an altogether new impulse, whereby Christian architecture is distinguished from that of Greece. The Greek temple is, in itself, one complete, dynamic whole. The  church of Christendom is quite different. I once said that by its very nature, a temple dedicated to Pallas Athene, to Apollo, or to Zeus needs no human being near it or inside it; it stands there in its own self-contained, solitary majesty as the dwelling-place of the God. The Greek temple is an infinitude in itself in that it is the dwelling-place of the God. And it is really the case that the farther away human beings are from the temple itself, the truer is the effect it makes upon us. Paradoxical as it may seem, this is the conception underlying the Greek temple. The church of Christendom is quite different. The call of a Christian church goes out to the hearts and minds of the faithful; and every one of the forms in the space we enter tells us that it is there to receive the community, the thoughts and aspirations of the congregation. There could hardly have been a truer instinct than that which coined the word Dom for the temple of Christianity, for Dom expresses a gathering-together, a togetherness of human beings. [Dom is akin to tum, as in Volkstum].

We cannot fail to realize that a Gothic building, with its characteristic forms, is trying to express something that is never as separate and complete in itself as a Greek temple. Every Gothic form seems to reach out beyond its own boundaries, to express the aspirations and searchings of those within the walls; there is everywhere a kind of urge to break through the enclosing walls and mingle with the universe. The Gothic arch arose, of course, from a deep feeling for the dynamic element; but there is something in all Gothic forms which seems to lead out and beyond; they strive as it were to make themselves permeable. One of the reasons why a Gothic building makes its wonderful impression is that the multi-colored windows provide such a mysterious and yet such a natural link between the interior space and the all-pervading light. Could there be any sight in the world more radiant and glorious than that of the light weaving through the colored windows of a Gothic cathedral among the tiny specks of dust? Could any enclosed space make a more majestic impression than this — where even the enclosing walls seem to lead out beyond, where the interior space itself reaches out to the mysteries of infinite space?

From this rapid survey of a lengthy period in the development of temple architecture, we cannot have failed to realize that its progress is based upon underlying law. But for all that, we still confront a kind of Sphinx. What is really at the root of it? Why has it developed in just this way? Can any explanation be given of those remarkable frontages and facades covered with strange figures of winged animals and winged wheels, of the curious pillars and columns to be found in the region of Asia Minor as the last surviving fragments of the first stage of temple architecture? These frontages tell us something very remarkable ... exactly the same, in reality, as the experience which arises within the temple itself. Can there be any greater enigma than the forms which are to be seen on fragments preserved in modern museums? What principle underlies it all?

There is an explanation, but it can only be found through insight into the thoughts and aims of those who participated in the building of these temples. This, of course, is a matter in which the help of occultism is indispensable. What is a temple of Asia Minor, in reality? Does its prototype or model exist anywhere in the world?

The following will indicate what this prototype is, and throw light upon the whole subject. Imagine a human being lying on the ground, in the act of raising his body and his countenance upright. He raises his body upwards from the ground in order that it may come within the sphere of the downstreaming spiritual forces and be united with them. This image will give you an inkling of the inspiration from which the architectural forms of the early temples of Asia Minor were born. All the pillars, capitals, and remarkable forms of such temples are a symbolic expression of what we may feel at the sight of a human being raising himself upright — with the movements of his hands, his features, the look on his face, and so on. If with the eyes of the spirit we are able to look behind this countenance into the inner man, into the microcosm that is an image of the macrocosm, we should find, inasmuch as the countenance expresses the inner man, that the countenance and the inner man are related in just the same way as the facade or frontage of a temple of Asia Minor was related to its interior. A human being in the act of raising himself upright — that is what the early temple of Asia Minor expresses, not as a copy, but as the underlying motif and all that this motif suggests. The spiritual picture given by Anthroposophy of the physical nature of man helps us to realize the sense in which such a temple was an expression of the microcosm, of man. Understanding of the aspiring human being, therefore, sheds light on the fundamental character of that early art of building. Man as a physical being has his spiritual counterpart in those remarkable temples of which only fragments and debris have survived. This could be pointed out in every detail, down to the winged wheels and the original forms of all such designs. The Temple Is — Man! rings to us across the ages like a clarion call.

And now let us turn to the temples of Egypt and of Greece. Man can be described not only as a physical being, but also as a being of soul. When we approach man on Earth as a being of soul, all that we perceive in his eyes, his countenance, his gestures is to begin with a riddle as great in every respect as that presented by the Egyptian  temple. It is within man that we find the holy of holies — accessible only to those who can find the way from the outer to the inner. And there, in the innermost sanctuary, a human soul is concealed, just as the God and the secrets of the Mysteries were concealed in the temples and pyramids of Egypt.

But the soul is not so deeply concealed in man as to be unable to find expression in his whole bearing and appearance. When the soul truly permeates the body, the body can become the outward expression and manifestation of the soul. The human body is then revealed to us as a work of artistic perfection, permeated by soul, an infinitude complete in itself. And now look for something in the visible world that is as whole and perfect in itself as the physical body of man permeated by soul. In respect of dynamic perfection you will find nothing except the Greek  temple, which in its self-contained perfection is at the same time the dwelling-place and the expression of the God. And in the sense that man, as microcosm, is soul within a body, so is the temple of Egypt and of Greece in reality MAN!

The human being raising himself upright — that is the prototype of the oriental temple. The human being standing on the soil of the Earth, concealing a mysterious world within himself but able to let the forces of this inner world stream perpetually through his being, directing his gaze horizontally forward — that is the Greek temple. Again the annals of world history tell us: The Temple is — MAN!

We come now to our own epoch. Its origin is to be found in the fruits of the ancient Hebrew culture and of Christianity, of the Mystery of Golgotha, although to begin with the new impulse had to find its way through architectural forms handed down from Egypt and from Greece. But the urge is to break through these forms, to break through their boundaries in such a way that they lead out beyond all enclosed space to the weaving life of the universe. The seeds of whatever comes to pass in the future have been laid down in the past. The temple of the future is foreshadowed, mysteriously, in the past. And as I am speaking of something that is a perpetual riddle in the evolution of humanity, I can hardly do otherwise than speak of the riddle itself in rather enigmatical words.

Constant reference is made to Solomon's temple. We know that this temple was meant to be an expression of the spiritual realities of human evolution. We hear much of this temple of Solomon. But a question that leads nowhere — and here lies the enigma — is often put to men living on the physical Earth. It is asked: Has anyone actually seen King Solomon's temple? Is there anyone who ever saw it, in all its truth and glory? Here indeed there is a riddle! Herodotus traveled in Egypt and the region of Asia Minor only a few centuries after the Temple of Solomon must already have been in existence. From the descriptions of his travels — and they mention matters of far less importance — we know that he must have passed within a few miles of Solomon's temple, but he did not set eyes upon it. People had not seen this temple! The enigma of it all is that here I have to speak of something that certainly existed — and yet had not been seen. But so it is ... In Nature, too, there is something that may be present and yet not be seen. The comparison is not perfect, however, and to press it any further would lead wide of the mark. Plants are contained within their seeds, but human eyes do not see the plants within the seeds. This comparison, as I say, must not be pressed any further; for anyone who attempted to base an explanation of Solomon's temple upon it would be speaking quite falsely. In the way I have expressed it, however, the comparison is correct — the comparison between the seed of a plant and the temple of Solomon.

What is the aim of Solomon's temple? Its aim is the same as that of the temple of the future. The physical human being can be described by Anthroposophy; the human being as the temple of the soul can be described by psychosophy; and as spirit, the human being can be described by pneumatosophy. Can we not then picture man spiritually in the following way: — We envisage a human being lying on the ground and raising himself upright; then we picture him standing before us as a self-contained whole, a self-grounded, independent infinitude, with eyes gazing straight forward; and then we picture a man whose gaze is directed to the heights, who raises his soul to the spirit and receives the spirit! To say that the spirit is spiritual is tautology, but for all that it underlines what is here meant, namely, that the spirit is the supersensible reality. Art, however, can work only in the realm of sense, can create forms only in the world of sense. In other words: The spirit that is received into the soul must be able to pour into form. Just as the human being raising himself upright and then the human being consolidated in himself were the prototypes of the ancient temples, so the prototype of the temple of the future must be the human soul into which the spirit has been received. The mission of our age is to initiate an art of  building which shall be able to speak with all clarity to the men of future times: The Temple is — Man — the Man who receives the spirit into his soul! But this art of building will differ from all its predecessors. We now come back to what was said at the beginning of the lecture.

With our physical eyes we can actually see a man who is in the act of raising himself upright. But man as a being pervaded by soul must be inwardly felt, inwardly perceived. And this was indeed the case — as you heard this morning when the lecturer so graphically said that the sight of a Greek temple “makes us feel the very marrow of our bones.” Truly, the Greek temple lives in us because we are that temple, in so far as we are each of us a microcosm permeated by soul. The quickening of the soul by the spirit is an invisible, supersensible fact ... and yet it must become perceptible in the world of sense if it is to be expressed in art. No epoch except our own and the epochs to come could give birth to this form of  art. It is for us to make the beginning, although it can be no more than a beginning, an attempt ... rather like the temple which, having been once whole and perfect in itself, strove in the Church of Christendom to break through its own walls and make connection with the weaving life of the universe.

What have we to build?

We have to build something that will be the completion of this striving. With the powers that Spiritual Science can awaken in us, we must try to create an interior which in the effects produced by its colors, forms, and other features is a place set apart — and yet, at the same time, is not shut off, inasmuch as wherever we look a challenge seems to come to our eyes and our hearts to penetrate through the walls, so that in the seclusion as it were of a sanctuary we are at the same time one with the weaving life of the Divine. The temple that belongs truly to the future will have walls — and yet no walls; its interior will have renounced every trace of egoism that may be associated with an enclosed space, and all its colors and forms will give expression to a selfless striving to receive the inpouring forces of the universe.

At the opening of our building in Stuttgart* I tried to indicate what can be achieved in this direction by colors, to what extent colors can be the link with the spirits of the surrounding world, with the all-pervading spiritual atmosphere. And now let us ask: Where does the supersensible being of man become externally manifest? When does an indication reach us of the supersensible reality within physical man? Only when man speaks, when his inner life of soul pours into the word; when the word is the embodiment of wisdom and prayer which — without any element of sentimentality — enshrines world-mysteries and entrusts them to man's keeping. The word that becomes flesh within the human being is the spirit, the spirituality which is expressing itself in the physical human being. And we shall either create the building we ought to create ... or we shall fail, in which case the task will have to be left to those who come after us. But we shall succeed if, for the first time, we give the interior the most perfect form that is possible today — quite apart from the outside appearance of the building. The exterior may or may not be prosaic ... that does not fundamentally matter. The outside appearance is there for the secular world — with which the interior is not concerned. It is the interior that is of importance. And what will this interior be?
* See the lecture: “Die okkulte Gesichtspunkte des Stuttgarter Baues.” Stuttgart, October, 1911.

At every turn our eyes will light upon something that seems to say to us: This interior, with its language of colors and forms, in its whole living reality, is an expression of the deepest spirituality that man can entrust to the sphere of his bodily nature. The mystery of Man as revealed to wisdom and to prayer, and the forms which surround the space, will be one in such a building. And the words sent forth into this space will set their own range and boundaries, so that as they strike upon the walls they will find something to which they are so attuned that what has issued from the human being will resound back into the interior. The dynamic power of the word will go forth from the center to the periphery, and the interior space itself will then re-echo the proclamation and message of the spirit. This interior will set and maintain its own boundaries and at the same time open itself freely to the spiritual infinitudes.

Such a building could not have existed hitherto, for Spiritual Science alone is capable of creating it. And if Spiritual Science does not do this in our day, future epochs will demand it of us. Just as the temple of Western Asia, the temple of Egypt, the temple of Greece, the church or cathedral of Christendom have arisen in the course of the evolution of humanity, so must the place of the Mysteries of Spiritual Science — secluded from the material affairs of the world and open to the spiritual world — be born from the Spirit of man as the work of art of the future.

Nothing that is already in existence can prefigure the ideal structure that ought, one day, to stand before us. Everything, in a certain sense, must be absolutely and in essence new. Naturally, it will arise in a form as yet imperfect, but at least it will be a beginning, leading to higher and higher stages of perfection in the same domain.

How can men of the modern age become mature enough to understand the nature of such a building?

No true art can arise unless it is born from the whole spirit of an epoch in human evolution. During the second year of my studies at the Technical High School in Vienna, Ferstel, the architect of the Votivkirche there, said something in his Presidential Address which often comes back to me. On the one side his words seemed to me at the time to strike a discordant note, but on the other, to be absolutely characteristic of the times. Ferstel made the strange statement: “Styles of architecture cannot just be found, cannot be invented.” To these words there should really be added: “Styles of architecture are born from the intrinsic character of the peoples.” Up to now, our age has shown no aptitude, as did the men of old, for finding styles of architecture and of building and then placing them before the world. Styles of architecture are “found,” but in the real sense only when they are born from the spirit of an epoch. How can we today reach some understanding of the Spirit of our age, by which alone the true architecture of the future can be found? ... I shall try now to approach the subject from quite a different angle and point of view.

During the course of our work I have come across artists in many different domains who feel a kind of fear, a kind of dread of spiritual knowledge, because Spiritual Science tries to open up a certain understanding of works of art and the impulses out of which they were created. It is quite true that efforts are made to interpret sagas, legends, and works of art, too, in the light of Spiritual Science, to explain the impulses underlying them. But so often it happens — and it is very understandable — that an artist recoils from such interpretations because, especially when he is really creative, he feels: ‘When I try to formulate in concepts or ideas something that I feel to be a living work of art, or at least a fertile intuition, I lose all power of originality, I lose everything I want to express — the content as well as the form.’ ... I assure you that little has been said to me through the course of the years with which I have greater sympathy. For if one is at all sensitive to these things, it is only too easy to understand the repulsion that an artist must feel when he finds one of his own works or a work he loves being analyzed and ‘explained.’ That a work of art should be taken in hand by the intellect is a really dreadful thought for the artist who is present, somewhere, in all of us. We seem to be aware of an almost deathlike smell when we have an edition of Goethe's Faust before us ... and there  at the bottom of the pages are the analytical notes of some scholar who may even be writing them as a philosopher, not merely as a philologist! How ought we to regard these things? I will try to make the point clear to you, very briefly, by means of an example.

I have before me the latest edition of the legend of “The Seven Wise Masters,” published this year by Diederichs. It is an old legend, of which many different versions exist. Fragments of it are to be found practically all over Europe. It is a remarkable story, beautiful and artistically composed. I am, of course, speaking here of the art of epic poetry, but the same kind of treatment might also be applied to architectural art. I cannot take you through all that is contained, sometimes in rather unpolished phraseology, in this legend of the Seven Wise Masters, but I will give you a skeleton outline of it.

A series of episodes graphically narrated in connection with one main theme have the following superscription: “Here begins the book which tells of Pontianus the Emperor, his wife the Empress, and his son, the young Prince Diocletian, how the Emperor desired to hang his son on the gallows, and how he is saved by words spoken each day by Seven Wise Masters.”

An Emperor has a wife and by her a son, Diocletian. She dies, and the Emperor takes a second wife. His son Diocletian is his lawful heir; by the second wife he has no son. The time comes for the education of Diocletian. It is announced that this will be entrusted to the most eminent and wisest men in the land, and Seven Wise Masters then come forward to undertake it. The Emperor's second wife longs to have a son of her own in order that her stepson may not succeed his father; but her wish is not fulfilled and she then proceeds to poison the mind of the Emperor against his son; finally she resolves to get rid of the son at all costs. For seven years Diocletian receives instruction from the Seven Wise Masters, amassing a wide range of knowledge — sevenfold knowledge. But in a certain respect he has outgrown the wisdom that the Seven Wise Masters had been able to impart to him. He has, for instance, himself discovered a certain star in the heavens and it is thereby intimated to him that when he returns to his father he must remain dumb for seven consecutive days, must utter no single word and appear to be a simpleton. But knowing too that the Empress is intent upon his death, he asks the Seven Wise Masters to save him. And now the following happens, seven times in succession, The son comes home, but the Empress tells the Emperor a story with the object of persuading him to let his son be hanged. The Emperor gives his assent, for the story has convinced and deeply moved him. The son is led out to the gallows in the presence of the Emperor and on the way they come upon the first of the Seven Wise Masters. When the Emperor holds him responsible for his son's stupidity, he — the first of the Masters — asks leave to tell the Emperor a story, and receives permission. “Very well,” says the Wise Man, “but first you must allow your son to come home, for it is my wish that he shall listen to us before he is hanged.” The Emperor acquiesces and when they have returned to their home the first of the Seven Wise Masters tells his story. This story makes such an impression upon the Emperor that he allows his son to go free. But the next day the Empress tells the Emperor another story, and again the son is condemned to death. As he is being led to the gallows, the second of the Seven Wise Masters comes forward, begging leave to tell the Emperor a story before the hanging takes place. Again the upshot is that Diocletian still lives. The same happenings repeat themselves seven times over, until the eighth day has come and Diocletian is able to speak. This is the story of how the Emperor's son comes to be saved.

The whole tale and its climax are graphically told. And now, think of it: We take the book and absorb ourselves in it; the graphic — if at times rather crude — pictures cannot fail to delight us; we are carried away by a really masterly portrayal of souls. But such a story immediately makes people call out for an ‘explanation.’ Would it always have been so? No indeed! It is only so in our own age, the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch, when the intellect predominates everything. In the days when this story was actually written, nobody would have been asked to ‘explain’ it. But the verdict nowadays is that explanation is necessary ... and so one makes up one's mind to give it. And after all, it is not difficult. The Emperor's first wife has given him a son who is destined to receive teaching from Seven Wise Masters and whose soul has descended from times when men were still endowed with natural powers of clairvoyance. The soul has lost this clairvoyance but the human ‘I’ has remained — and can be instructed by the Seven Wise Masters, who are presented to us in many different forms. As I once said, we have essentially the same theme in the seven daughters of Jethro, the priest of Midian, who came to Moses by the well belonging to their father; he, eventually, became the father-in-law of Moses. In the Middle Ages too there are the seven Liberal Arts. The second wife of the Emperor, who has no consciousness of the Divine, represents the human soul as it is today, when it has lost consciousness of the Divine and is therefore also unable to ‘have a son.’ Diocletian, the son, is instructed in secret by the Seven Wise Masters and must finally be freed by means of the powers he has acquired from these Seven. And so we could continue, giving an absolutely correct interpretation which would certainly be useful to our contemporaries. But what of our artistic sense? I do not know whether what I now have to say will find an echo or not! When we read and absorb such a book and then try to be clever, explaining it quite correctly, in the way demanded by the modern age, we cannot help feeling that we have wronged it, fundamentally wronged it. There is no getting away from the fact that a skeleton of abstract concepts has been substituted for the work of art in all its living reality — whether the explanation is true or false, illuminating or the reverse.

The greatest work of art of all is the world itself — Macrocosm or Microcosm! In olden times the secrets of the world were expressed in pictures, or symbols. We, in our day, bring the intellect, and Spiritual Science too, to bear upon the ancient wisdom which has been the seed of the culture of the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch. We do this in order to ‘explain’ the secrets of the world. In comparison with the living reality this is just as abstract and barren as a commentary in comparison with the work of art itself. Although Spiritual Science is necessary, although the times demand it, nevertheless in a certain respect we must feel it to be a skeleton in comparison with the living realities of existence. It is indeed so. When Theosophy keeps only our intellects busy, when with our intellects we draw up tables and coin all kinds of technical expressions, Theosophy is nothing but a skeleton — above all when it is speaking of the living human being. It begins to be a little more bearable when we are able to picture, for instance, the conditions of existence on Saturn, Sun, and Moon — the earlier epochs of Earth evolution — or the work of the several spiritual hierarchies. But to say that the human being consists of physical body, ether body, astral body, and ego — or Manas and Kama-Manas ... this is really dreadful, and it is even more dreadful to have charts and tables of these things. Thinking of the human being in all his majesty, I can scarcely imagine anything more horrible than to be surrounded in a great hall by a number of living people and to have on the blackboard beside one a chart of the seven principles of man! But so, alas, it must be ... and there is no getting away from it. It is not, perhaps, actually necessary to inflict these things upon our eyes — they are anything but pleasing to look at — but we must have them before the eyes of the soul! That is part of the mission of our age. And whatever may be said against these things from the point of view of art, they are, after all, part and parcel of the times in which we live.

But how can we get beyond this? In a certain respect we have to be arid and prosaic Theosophists; we have to strip the world bare of its secrets and drag glorious works of art into the desert of abstract concepts, reiterating all the time that we are “Theosophists!” How can we get out of this dilemma?

There is only one way. We must feel that Theosophy is for us a Cross and a Sacrifice, that in a sense it takes away from us practically all the living substance of world-secrets in the possession of mankind hitherto. And no degree of intensity is too great for words in which I want to bring home to you that for everything that truly lives, in the course of the evolution of mankind and of the Divine World too, Theosophy must to begin with be a field of corpses.

But if we realize that pain and suffering are inseparable from Theosophy, in that it brings knowledge of what is greatest and most sublime in the world, if we feel that we have in us one of the divine impulses of its mission — then Theosophy is a corpse which rises out of the grave and celebrates its resurrection. Nobody will rejoice to find the world being stripped of its mysteries; but on the other hand nobody will feel and know the creative power inherent in the mysteries of the world as truly as those who realize that the source of their own creative power flows from Christ, Who having carried the Cross to the ‘Place of Skulls,’ passed through death. This is the Cross in the sphere of knowledge which Theosophy carries in order to experience death and then, from within the grave, to see a new world of life arising. A man who quickens and transforms his very soul — in a way that the intellect can never do — a man who suffers a kind of death in Theosophy will feel in his own life a source of those impulses in art which can turn into reality what I have outlined before you today.

True spiritual perception is part and parcel of the aim before us — and we believe that the Johannesbau-Verein will help to make this aim understood in the world. I hardly think any other words are needed in order to bring home to you that this building can be for Anthroposophists one of those things which the heart feels to be a vital necessity in the stream of world-events. For when it comes to the question of whether Anthroposophy will find a wider response in the world today, so much more depends upon deed than upon any answer expressed in words or thoughts; very much depends, too, upon everyone contributing, as far as he can, to the aim which has found such splendid understanding on the part of the Johannesbau-Verein and may thus be able to take its real place in the evolution of mankind.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Techmology: The devil take the hindmost

Rudolf Steiner, 100 years ago  [December 3, 1911]:  “We have wireless installations — undreamt of by our ancestors — to transmit our thoughts all over the Earth, and what good does it do us? The most trivial, unproductive thoughts are sent hither and thither, and human ingenuity has to be strained to the utmost to enable us to transport from some far-distant region, by means of all kinds of perfected appliances, something for us to eat; or to travel at high speeds around the globe. But in our heads there is nothing worth sending from place to place, for our thoughts are cheerless; moreover, since we have had our present means of communication they have become even more cheerless than when they were conveyed in the old snail-like fashion.”

Our value for the world lies wholly in acts of love

Rudolf Steiner, December 17, 1912:   'Our value for the world must be seen to lie wholly in acts of love, not in what is done for the sake of self-perfecting. Let us be under no illusion about this. When a person is endeavoring to follow Christ through love of wisdom and dedicates that wisdom to the service of the world, it only takes real effect to the extent it is filled with love.'

Anthroposophy: The Tree of Life's New Sap

Rudolf Steiner, May 25, 1909:

"The individualities who in their knowledge were far ahead of normal human beings, the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings, knew that Spiritual Science had to flow into our culture if our culture was not to wither. Spiritual Science is a new sap of life, and humanity needs such new sap from time to time. Spiritual Science is the stream necessary for our time. Those who have a feeling for these great truths should hurry to us and absorb the truths so that they can be salt and ferment for the spiritual life of all humanity. The striving individual must see this as a sort of duty. It is not difficult to understand why the highest authorities have issued a call for Spiritual Science in our time precisely so that those with open hearts and unprejudiced minds may be assembled."

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Golden Rule of Sadhana

For every step forward you take in the acquisition of knowledge, take three steps forward in the improvement of your moral character.  --Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our own sovereign will grows from the soil of our karma

Rudolf Steiner, May 25, 1909:

'Spiritual thoughts are powerful if we accept them as living forces. When we elevate ourselves to the thoughts that are connected with the past and the future of the Earth and allow these momentous events to work on us, then our keyed-up soul will be drawn to these events, far away from the worries of the day. Thoughts of how the ideal of our own sovereign will grows for us out of karma — this plan of destiny — give us courage and strength so that we say to ourselves: “However insurmountable some of the problems of our lives may be today, our strength will grow from one incarnation to the next. The sovereign will within us is becoming stronger every day, and all the obstacles will help us to strengthen it even more. In the process of overcoming these obstacles, our will is going to develop ever more, and our energy is going to increase. The trivialities of life, all the inferior things in our existence, will melt away as the hoar does in the Sun — melted by the very Sun that rises in the wisdom that permeates our spiritual thinking. Our world of feeling is made to glow throughout and becomes warm and trans-illumined; our whole existence will be broadened, and we will feel happy in it.”
When such moments of inner activity are repeated and we allow them to work on us, a strengthening of our whole existence into all directions will emanate from this process. Not from one day to the next, to be sure, but constant repetition of such thoughts will bring about the gradual disappearance of our depressions, lamentations about our fate, and an excessively melancholy temperament. Spirit knowledge will be medicine for our soul, and when that happens, the horizon of our existence widens and implants in us that way of thinking that is the fruit of all spirit knowledge. This resulting way of thinking and feeling, this attitude of mind and heart, must be considered the ideal state to which spiritual scientific endeavors can lead. All discord, all disharmonies of life, will disappear opposite the harmonious thoughts and feelings that bring about an energetic will. Thus, spiritual investigation proves to be not just knowledge and doctrine, but also a force of life and a substance of our soul. Seen in this light, Spiritual Science is capable of working in life in such a way that it frees human beings from cares and worries. And that is how it has to work in our time, for it owes its existence not to arbitrariness, but to the knowledge that it is needed.'

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The God of the Alpha and the God of the Omega: Our own sovereign will grows from the soil of our karma

The Principle of Spiritual Economy. Lecture 10 of 10

Rudolf Steiner, May 25, 1909:

It is often emphasized, and with good reason, that Spiritual Science should not simply be a theory about the world, life, and the human being, but that it should become the most profound content of the human soul: that which gives life its meaning. If one approaches Spiritual Science with the right attitude, it can indeed become the very substance of life within a human being. However, let me stress emphatically that it can take on this function only gradually, little by little, because Spiritual Science is much like everything that grows and develops: first it must have a seed that keeps growing, and then by virtue of this growth it becomes ever more effective.
It is also a fact that nobody could hope to extract from Spiritual Science the right way of life just by an intellectual understanding of its truths. Judging Spiritual Science by its outward features, one may come to the conclusion that it is a view of the world, albeit one that is more comprehensive and sublime than others. But no, it is still something else, for what other theory would be able to advance those comprehensive ideas about Saturn, Sun, and Moon? What other theories of the world today would dare to make very concise statements about this? None, because they end up with abstract concepts when they attempt to raise themselves above the objects we perceive with our physical eyes and ears. Such theories and conceptions of the world can offer only vague concepts about the divine that weaves and works behind material reality. As far as other less ambitious truths are concerned, such as the doctrines of reincarnation and of karma, Spiritual Science is also far ahead of anything traditional science has to offer when it talks about the evolution of the human being. To be sure, science too could adopt these doctrines, for if one really wants to draw the proper conclusions from the materialistic-scientific facts, reincarnation and karma would long have been popular ideas. However, because modern scientists have not dared to come to these conclusions, the discussion about the subject has simply been put to rest. Evolution from the perspective of natural history and of history is discussed, but nobody wants to hear anything of the true evolution of the human individuality, which continues from one life to another and carries the human soul into the future.
Those who observe life properly will be compelled by its very consequences to embrace the doctrine of the four members of the human constitution, which is also revealed by clairvoyant investigation. But because thinking in the modern age lacks all courage, this doctrine is proclaimed only by Spiritual Science, which as a body of knowledge is in many ways ahead of other conceptions of the world and of the philosophies presented to human beings at the present time.
However, when all has been said and done, all that is not the real fruit of Spiritual Science. Its fruit does not consist in the fact that one accepts its teaching as satisfying and far-reaching. We cannot have the fruit without the seed. What we develop today as the fruit of the anthroposophical worldview can make our hearts happy and warm our capacity to love. Yet nobody can enjoy this fruit of our spiritual scientific world view without the seed, that is without spiritual scientific knowledge itself. People may say: Of what use are these ideas about reincarnation and karma, or about the members of the human constitution and the evolution of the world? What is really important is the development of human love and of moral character. To this I would answer: Certainly, that is important, but true human love that is fruitful for the world is possible only on the basis of knowledge — Spiritual Scientific knowledge.
As a branch of knowledge, Spiritual Science has an advantage over other world conceptions in many areas. When it is experienced by us in a truly intimate manner, when we do not tire to awaken in our souls time and again those great comprehensive thoughts and carry them with us, then we will see that this body of teaching can in a very definite sense become the content and substance of one's life. Spiritual scientific teaching is a body of ideas that leads us into supersensible worlds, and in spiritual scientific thinking we must therefore soar to higher worlds. Every hour spent in spiritual scientific study means that the soul reaches out beyond the concerns of everyday life. The moment we devotedly give ourselves to the teaching, we are transported into another world. Our ego is then united with the spiritual world out of which it was born. Thus, when we think in a spiritual scientific way, we are with our ego in our spiritual home, at the fountainhead from which it came.
If we understand this in the right sense, then we can truly compare spiritual scientific thinking with that state of consciousness that we recognize from the spiritual point of view as sleep. When human beings fall asleep at night and sleep themselves into a spiritual world, then they have transported the ego into the world whence it was born and from which it emerges every morning so that it can pass into the world of the senses within the human body. In times to come, the soul will live consciously within this spiritual world; however, at the present such is normally not the case. And why not? It is because in the course of the ages consciousness of the spiritual world has become weaker and weaker in the ego. In the Atlantean epoch the ego during sleep saw itself surrounded by divine-spiritual beings, but after the Atlantean catastrophe the ego was pushed out into the world of the senses and increasingly lost its capacity to gaze into the world that it inhabits during sleep. The idea that the ego is blotted out at night and resurrected in the morning is absurd. It is in the spiritual world, but is not conscious of it.
Spiritual scientific thinking gives us the strength to tie ourselves consciously, little by little, to these spiritual realities. By leading us — at least in thinking — into the spiritual world, anthroposophy has certain beneficial qualities in common with sleep. The cares and worries that issue from the things of the sense world are obliterated in sleep. If human beings are able to sleep and their thinking is blotted out, they forget all worries. That is the most beneficent effect of sleep, an effect resulting from the fact that the ego lets the forces of the spiritual world stream into it during sleep. These spiritual streams contain strengthening forces, the effect of which is to help us forget our worries and cares during sleep and also to repair the damage that such worries and cares have inflicted upon our organism. The injuries caused by the sense world are healed by spiritual powers — hence the refreshment, the regeneration, that every healthy sleep bestows upon us. In a higher sense, these then are the qualities that spiritual scientific thinking has in common with sleep.
Spiritual thoughts are powerful if we accept them as living forces. When we elevate ourselves to the thoughts that are connected with the past and the future of the Earth and allow these momentous events to work on us, then our keyed-up soul will be drawn to these events, far away from the worries of the day. Thoughts of how the ideal of our own sovereign will grows for us out of karma — this plan of destiny — give us courage and strength so that we say to ourselves: “However insurmountable some of the problems of our lives may be today, our strength will grow from one incarnation to the next. The sovereign will within us is becoming stronger every day, and all the obstacles will help us to strengthen it even more. In the process of overcoming these obstacles, our will is going to develop ever more, and our energy is going to increase. The trivialities of life, all the inferior things in our existence, will melt away as the hoar does in the Sun — melted by the very Sun that rises in the wisdom that permeates our spiritual thinking. Our world of feeling is made to glow throughout and becomes warm and trans-illumined; our whole existence will be broadened, and we will feel happy in it.”
When such moments of inner activity are repeated and we allow them to work on us, a strengthening of our whole existence into all directions will emanate from this process. Not from one day to the next, to be sure, but constant repetition of such thoughts will bring about the gradual disappearance of our depressions, lamentations about our fate, and an excessively melancholy temperament. Spirit knowledge will be medicine for our soul, and when that happens, the horizon of our existence widens and implants in us that way of thinking that is the fruit of all spirit knowledge. This resulting way of thinking and feeling, this attitude of mind and heart, must be considered the ideal state to which spiritual scientific endeavors can lead. All discord, all disharmonies of life, will disappear opposite the harmonious thoughts and feelings that bring about an energetic will. Thus, spiritual investigation proves to be not just knowledge and doctrine, but also a force of life and a substance of our soul. Seen in this light, Spiritual Science is capable of working in life in such a way that it frees human beings from cares and worries. And that is how it has to work in our time, for it owes its existence not to arbitrariness, but to the knowledge that it is needed.
The individualities who in their knowledge were far ahead of normal human beings, the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings, knew that Spiritual Science had to flow into our culture if our culture was not to wither. Spiritual Science is a new sap of life, and humanity needs such new sap from time to time. Spiritual Science is the stream necessary for our time. Those who have a feeling for these great truths should hurry to us and absorb the truths so that they can be salt and ferment for the spiritual life of all humanity The striving individual must see this as a sort of duty. It is not difficult to understand why the highest authorities have issued a call for Spiritual Science in our time precisely so that those with open hearts and unprejudiced minds may be assembled.
We have been viewing with our souls post-Atlantean humanity and have traced its cultural epochs from the ancient Indian down to our own fifth post-Atlantean epoch. We have seen that during this time human beings lost their consciousness of the spiritual world bit by bit. In the first epoch, the ancient Indian epoch, human beings still had a profound yearning for the spiritual world. The world of the senses was considered maya, illusion. Then came the ages that issued a call to human beings to do external, physical labor. Human beings had to learn to love the world of the senses because only then were they able to cultivate it. At this time, human beings no longer said that the external world was nothing but maya. On the contrary, human beings now had to immerse themselves into the world and work on it with their faculties and wisdom. That, however, resulted in human beings' gradually losing the consciousness of the spiritual world, so that Zarathustra, the initiator of the Persian culture, felt compelled to tell his disciples: “All living beings are called into existence by the force that streams from the Sun as physical force. But this physical force is not the only thing. In the Sun lives Ahura Mazdao — the spiritual Sun Being.” It was necessary to demonstrate to people how the material world is but the physical expression of the spiritual world.
Thus it was first in the ancient Persian epoch that there arose the sentiment that would express itself as follows: “Certainly, what the Sun shines upon is maya, but I must seek the spirit behind this maya. The spiritual world is always around me, but I cannot experience it with physical eyes and ears. I can experience it only with supersensible consciousness. Once this consciousness has been awakened, then in the physical existence also can I recognize the Great Spirit of the Sun with all its subordinate beings who also belong to the Sun. But an age is approaching when my soul will no longer have this knowledge.” It was difficult to transmit this knowledge fully to human beings. They must gradually be made more mature through renewed incarnations in order to recognize the divine-spiritual element behind all physical phenomena and to understand that all of nature is permeated by it.
In the ancient Persian culture, human beings were still capable of recognizing the divine element in this life, but they were unable to take this consciousness into the time period between death and rebirth. For the peculiar thing in this epoch was that consciousness between death and rebirth became increasingly darker. By contrast, let us look at the soul of an individual in ancient India. When it passed through death into the other world, it lived there among spiritual beings in a comparatively light-filled world. In the Persian culture, such was less the case; the world between death and rebirth had become darker. Obstacles between various souls accumulated, and the soul felt lonely; in a manner of speaking, it could not extend its hand to another soul. But that is the difficult and dark side of life in the spiritual world: the soul may not share its path with others.
In the Egyptian epoch, a substantial part of the soul's capacity to link up with other souls had already been lost to such an extent that the soul longed for the preservation of the physical body, which was to be preserved in the mummy. The reason for this was that the soul sensed it had very little strength that could be taken into the life between death and rebirth. Human beings at this time wanted to preserve the physical body so that the soul might be able to look down on it as on something that belonged to it, thus compensating for the power it no longer had in the spiritual world. Cultural phenomena such as mummification are deeply connected with the evolution of the human soul.
An Egyptian had the notion that in death he would be united with Osiris. He said these words to himself: “Long ago, in ancient ages, the soul was able to gaze into the beyond. It has now lost this visionary power, but it can make up for the loss if in this life it develops qualities by which it will become more and more like Osiris himself. The soul will then itself become Osiris-like and will be united with Osiris after death.” And so, by clinging to Osiris, the soul tried to create a surrogate for everything that could no longer be preserved from ancient times.
However, what Osiris was unable to give to the human soul is told in an Egyptian legend, whereby Osiris was once living with human beings on Earth, until his evil brother Seth shut him up in a wooden box similar to a casket. This means that Osiris did live on Earth with human beings when they were still more spiritual. But then he had to remain in the spiritual world because he was too sublime to fit into the physical human form. Similarly, if the soul wanted to create a substitute for the lost spiritual power of vision between death and rebirth, it had to become a being that is too sublime, too good for the human form. By becoming similar to Osiris, the soul would be able to overcome its loneliness in the beyond, but it could not take into a new incarnation what it had received in the spiritual world through the characteristics it had in common with Osiris. This is so because, after all, Osiris was not suited for this physical incarnation.
The grave danger threatening humankind in those times was that incarnations were steadily deteriorating because there could be no new influx of spiritual forces. Only what had remained from ancient ages could be further developed, and all that reached its ultimate maturity in Graeco-Roman times. This was made manifest in the magnificent art of the Greeks—the mature fruit from earlier blossoms. Greek art was the finest fruit of the heritage bequeathed to humanity beginning with primeval times. But hand in hand with this accomplishment came the feeling of deep darkness in the life between death and new birth, and a noble Greek individual was right when he said: “Better to be a beggar in the upper world than a king in the realm of the shadows.” [ Note 44 ] Yes indeed, human beings in Greece and the Roman states possessed so much to delight and satisfy their senses, but they could take nothing with them into the life between death and new birth.
Then came the event of Golgotha — the event that is of significance not only for the external physical world but also for all the worlds through which a human being must pass. The moment when the blood flowed from the wounds of the Redeemer, when the corpse was hanging on the cross, the Christ appeared in the underworld and kindled the light that once again gave sight to the souls below. And the soul was able to realize from that moment on that once again strength could also be derived from the world below and benefit the physical world. No longer does the soul endeavor to unite itself with Osiris in order to have a surrogate for the loss of vision. From now on, it could say to itself: “In the underworld, too, I can find the light of Christ — that which has immersed itself into the Earth, for the Christ has become the spirit of the Earth. And now I imbibe a new force from a spiritual fountainhead, a force that I can take back to Earth when I return for a new incarnation.”
What was necessary so that this force could flow into the soul in the right way? A complete reversal in the way human beings looked at the physical world was necessary. First, let us ask what the people in ancient India experienced when we reconstruct what one of them might have said: “This world is maya, the great illusion. Whenever I perceive this world and relate myself to it, I have fallen victim to the illusion. Only by withdrawing from it and by elevating myself to primeval spiritual things beyond the world of the senses can I be in the world of the gods. Only by withdrawing from the outer world can I traverse through my inner being that has remained with me as an ancient legacy of these spiritual worlds and thus return to my ancient home. I must return to this primeval holy realm from which I once started out to the world of the senses, and I can return only by giving free rein to my spiritual powers, thereby diverting my attention from the lure of the outer world.” In the days of the ancient Indian culture it was possible for human beings to take this step back into the far-distant past. Inside of them, they had retained much of the force that could help an individual, if properly applied, to find the way back to the old gods. Thus did the human being in ancient India find his Devas, the beings from whom everything had come into existence.
Next came the epoch of ancient Persia, when the human soul had lost much of the power that was like a legacy from ancient times. If in this epoch the soul had said: “I will turn back because I do not wish to remain in this world,” it would not have found the ancient gods, because the power to make that possible was no longer adequate. This fact is related to the evolution of humanity. Had the soul attempted to divert its gaze away from the outer world and consider it as nothing but maya, this would have led to its seeing not the higher gods, but rather the subordinate Devas who were evil spiritual beings that did not belong to the ranks of higher gods. Because this danger existed, the soul had to be shown how this world of the senses could be seen as the outward expression of the spiritual by starting from the world of the senses and not turning away from it. In looking up to the Sun, the soul learned to see in it not only its external physical Sun force, but also the Sun God Ahura Mazdao, and thereby it learned to know something of the divine-spiritual reality.
The soul of the ancient Persian had become too weak to activate the spiritual forces that could lead it back to the ancient gods. Hence, it had to be educated to pierce through the veil of materiality covering the spiritual. In the outer world the evil Asuras lay hidden, but human beings were not yet capable of seeing the beneficent spiritual beings beyond the world that was regarded as maya. That is why all names for spiritual beings came to be reversed during the time between the Indian and the Persian epochs. Devas were the good beings in ancient India, but in the Persian culture, they became the evil gods. The true reason for this reversal is evident from the continuing development of the human soul; in relation to the external world it had become increasingly stronger, in relationship to the inner world, increasingly weaker.
Preparation for what was to come was now made by those beings who guide and direct human evolution. After Zarathustra had learned to look up to the Sun and see in its aura the Sun God, he knew that this Sun God was no one else but the Christ-Spirit, who at that time could reveal Himself only from outside the world. The human being in his soul here on Earth could not yet perceive the Christ-Being. The being that was formerly seen in the Sun and had been given the name Ahura Mazdao had to descend to Earth because only then could the human being learn from within to recognize a Deva, a divinely spiritual principle, within his own soul. In the age of ancient Persia, life in the human body was not yet capable of receiving the Christ-Spirit, let alone be permeated by it. All that had to happen slowly and gradually. We must acquaint ourselves with the thought that the gods can reveal themselves only to those who prepare themselves as recipients of a revelation. Deva, the god who can be perceived through our inner forces, could appear only to that part of humanity that had prepared itself for his coming.
Everything in human evolution comes to pass slowly and gradually, and evolution does not proceed everywhere in the same manner. After the Atlantean flood, the tribes had migrated to the East. Since they settled in various regions, their development also differed. What enabled the ancient Indian to have a vivid feeling for the spiritual world? This happened because the evolution of the ego in this part of the world had taken a very special course. In the people of ancient India the ego had remained deeply entrenched in the spiritual world so that it was disinclined to make much contact with the physical world. It was the peculiar characteristic of an individual in ancient India that he or she would cling to the spirituality of preceding ages while at the same time confining relations with the physical world to a minimum. Since the individual in ancient India did not want to connect his or her ego with the physical world, the achievements of external civilization have not blossomed in India or in many other regions of the East where people by and large seem to have lacked inventive genius. By contrast, the inventiveness of the people in the West prompted them to take hold of the external world since they considered it their task to cultivate and improve it. Ancient Persia formed, as it were, the boundary between East and West. The people who paid little attention to the material existence in this world tended to settle and remain in the East. That is why the teaching of a Buddha was still necessary for the people of the East six hundred years before Christ. Buddha had to be placed into world evolution at this juncture because it was his mission to keep alive in the souls the longing for the spiritual worlds of the past, and that is why he had to preach against the thirst for entering the physical world. However, he was preaching at a time when the soul still had the inclination, but no longer the capacity, to elevate itself into the spiritual worlds. Buddha preached to human beings the sublime truths about suffering, and he brought to them the insights that could lift the soul above this world of suffering.
Such teaching would have been unsuitable for the Western world. It needed a doctrine that was in tune with the people's inclination to embrace the physical world and that could be summarized by the following explanation: “You must work in the outer world in such a way that the forces of this world are placed in the service of humanity; but after death, you can also take the fruits of your life into the spiritual world.”
The peculiar essence of Christianity is usually not properly understood. In the Roman world it did not appeal much to those who were able to enjoy the treasures and riches of this world, but those who were condemned to toil in the physical world liked Christianity. They knew that in spite of all their work in the physical world, they were developing something in this life that they could take with them after death. Such was the feeling of exaltation inspiring the souls of those who accepted Christianity. Human beings could say to themselves: “By setting up Christ as my ideal, I develop something in this world that cannot be annihilated even by death.” This consciousness could develop only because Christ had actually been on Earth not as a Deva but as a being who had incarnated in a human body and who could be a model and an ideal for every human being. For this to happen, the impulse and the proper forces had to be created, and this preparatory work had been done by Zarathustra. He had experienced so much that he was prepared to take this mission.
In ancient Persia, Zarathustra had been able to behold the Sun God in the aura of the Sun, but he had had to prepare himself for that task in earlier incarnations. During the era that was still inspired by the teachings of the Holy Rishis, Zarathustra had already gone through some sublime experiences in incarnations. He had been initiated into the teachings of the Holy Rishis, having absorbed them stage by stage in seven subsequent incarnations. Then he was born into a body that was blind and deaf, which afforded him as little contact with the outer world as was possible. Zarathustra had to be born as a human being who was practically nonsusceptible to outer sense impressions, and then out of his innermost being the memory of the teachings of the Holy Rishis from a previous incarnation welled up in him. And at that moment the Great Sun God was able to kindle in him something that went even further than the wisdom received from the Holy Rishis. That experience awakened in him again in his next incarnation, and it was then that Ahura Mazdao revealed himself to Zarathustra from without.
You can see, therefore, that Zarathustra had experienced a great deal before he could become the teacher and inspirer of the people of ancient Persia. We also know that Moses and Hermes were his disciples and that he gave his astral body to Hermes and his etheric body to Moses. Moses was the first to proclaim the teaching that emanated from the Akasha Chronicle, the teaching of the “I am the I am.” (Ejeh asher ejeh). And thus Zarathustra prepared himself slowly for an even greater and more prodigious sacrifice. When Zarathustra's astral body reappeared in Hermes and his etheric body in Moses, his ego — whose development had steadily progressed — was able to form a new astral body and a new etheric body for the new incarnation, commensurate with the full powers of the ego. And six hundred years before Christ, Zarathustra was born again in the land of Chaldaea and became the teacher of Pythagoras under the name Zarathos, or Nazarathos. Within the Chaldaean culture he then prepared the new impulse that was to come into the world. This is reflected in that passage of the New Testament that speaks of the Three Wise Men from the East who came to greet the Christ as the new Star of Wisdom. Zarathustra had taught that the Christ would come, and those who were left as disciples of this significant Zarathustra doctrine knew at what point in time the great Impulse of Golgotha would arrive.
There is always a certain connection between great individualities of the world, such as Buddha, Zarathustra, and Pythagoras, because what is at work in the world is a force — a fact. Great spirits work together, and they are born into a certain age for a purpose. Likewise, the great impulses in human evolution weave themselves into each other. Zarathustra had pointed to the One who was to make it possible, through the Event of Golgotha, for human beings to find the world of the Devas through the force of their own inner being; moreover, they would be increasingly able to do so as they developed forward into the future. And in the same epoch, the Buddha was teaching: Yes, there is a spiritual world, compared to which the whole world of the senses is maya. Turn your steps back into the world in which you were before the thirst for an earthly existence awakened, and then you will find Nirvana — rest within the divine!
Such is the difference between the teachings of Buddha and Zarathustra. Buddha taught that the human being can reach the divine by going back; Zarathustra, in his incarnation as Zarastra, taught that the time is approaching when the light will incarnate within the Earth itself, which will enable the progressive soul to come closer to the divine. Buddha said the soul would find God by going back; Zarathustra said it would find Him by going forward.
Regardless of whether you regress or progress, whether you seek God in the Alpha or in the Omega, you will be able to find Him. What is important is that you find Him with your own heightened human power. Those forces necessary to find the God of the Alpha are the primal forces of a human being. However, the forces necessary to find the God of the Omega must be acquired here on Earth by striving human beings themselves. It makes a difference whether one goes back to Alpha or forward to Omega. He who is content with finding God and just wants to get into the spiritual world has the choice of going forward or backward. However, the individual who is concerned that humanity leave the Earth in a heightened state must point the way to Omega — as did Zarathustra.
Zarathustra prepared the way for that part of humanity that was to become involved with the very forces of the Earth. Yet Zarathustra also fully understood the Buddha, for their quest was ultimately the same. What was Zarathustra's task? He had to make it possible for the Christ-Impulse to descend to the Earth. Zarathustra was reborn as Jesus of Nazareth, and because of what had transpired in the previous incarnation, his individuality was able to unite itself with many a force that had been preserved as a result of spiritual economy. The world is profound and truth is complicated!
There was also interwoven in Jesus of Nazareth the being of the Buddha. It had advanced on different paths because many powers work in the one who is supposed to have an influence on humankind. The ego of Jesus left the physical, etheric, and astral bodies at the baptism in the Jordan River, and the Sun God — the Christ-Spirit — entered and lived three years in the bodies of Jesus of Nazareth. And this is how Zarathustra had prepared humanity to be the recipient of the Christ-Impulse.
An important moment in the evolution of the Earth had arrived with these events. It had now become possible for human beings to find God in their innermost being; in addition, they were now able to take something with them from the life between death and new birth into the new incarnation. And now, in our own age, there are already present souls who feel strongly enough that they have been in a world illumined by the Light of Christ. The fact that this is dimly divined in many a soul means that human beings today are capable of receiving and understanding the teachings of Spiritual Science. And because such people exist today, the Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings have expressed the hope that such people will also feel the truths of Spiritual Science and will make them the very substance of their lives. Knowing all this, the Masters assigned the mission of proclaiming Anthroposophy in the present age to those who have already attained a high level of understanding.
It is essential that Spiritual Science begin now to become a spiritual impulse of our time. Christ Himself has prepared human souls for Spiritual Science, and it is guaranteed to stay in this world for the simple reason that the Light of Christ, once kindled, can never be extinguished. Once we inspire ourselves with the feeling that the stream of anthroposophical spirituality is a necessity, then we are immersed in it in the right way, and it will always stand before us as an unshakable ideal.
Yes, the human personality had to develop to such an extent that light could descend and say in a human body: “I am the Light of the world!” The Light of the world first came down into the soul of Zarathustra and spoke to it. Zarathustra's soul understood the meaning of this universal light and sacrificed itself so that these significant words would go out to all humanity — from a human body: “I am the Light of the world.”