Friday, August 31, 2012

Become Yourself

"From a cosmic being, man has become an earthly being. He has the potentiality to become a cosmic being once again, when as an earthly being he has become himself."  - Rudolf Steiner

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Love is wisdom in action (the I is love and wisdom that have united to become will)

From the contents of an Esoteric Lesson given by Rudolf Steiner in Hamburg on May 31, 1908:
One must repeatedly let what one had heard in esoteric classes pass before one's soul, and only then will one gradually get out the forces that are hidden in what's given. In this way one learns to distinguish between thoughts that work productively in one's soul and those that are unproductive since they only reflect on things that are already given. If one looks at a watch, one can make its whole construction and how it's kept in motion clear in one's thought. But they are unproductive thoughts. The one who first invented a watch had productive thoughts. Most of our scientific thinking is unproductive. But when we occupy ourselves with what's given to our thinking in esoteric classes we occupy ourselves with productive thoughts, and that's a source of strength for our soul. Such thoughts must pass through our soul in the right order. Just as nothing could exist in an organism if a leg was attached where an arm was supposed to be, so everything in our thinking must be consequent. Let's place such a thought structure before our soul today.
One says a lot about wisdom. But wisdom isn't what's often called wisdom today. One gets smart through experience, but wisdom is the force that streams into us from the spiritual world and then streams out again. Wisdom also comes from the mouth of babes. When what streams out comes more from the feeling, it's wisdom, but when it stimulates a man into action so that productivity predominates, it's love. But one has to know what love really is. Someone may feel sympathy for a man's misfortune, but that isn't real love. Sympathy only becomes love if one steps in and helps him. Wisdom and love make up the I. The I is love and wisdom that have become will. This is the higher triad. When it's reflected somewhat lower I, love and wisdom become thinking, willing, and feeling, respectively. Reflected even further down they become the four temperaments. Men have composite temperaments, but angels only have one each. The first kind of angels are those who work the choleric temperament into men. Such people like to do things. Sanguine angels inject men with a temperament that makes them receptive to all sublime and beautiful things, although such men aren't very active. They get enthused easily but don't stick to anything very long.
Phlegmatic angels influence men so that they're not interested in what others have created. They do not leave such a creation the way it is, they repeatedly change it, they make everything flowing and indefinite. This is already expressed in the word phlegma, which means slime. Phlegmatics can't make decisions and resolutions and so they're always missing opportunities. Their bodies have soft and indefinite forms, they walk softly as they weave back and forth. And yet such people can also be choleric in their insistence on particular foods that they like. Melancholic angels work on a man so that he sees everything in himself, he's only occupied with himself, he does nothing for progress. So he doesn't enjoy creation and becomes dull and dark. One must judge all characters on the basis of what the individual does for the whole's progress. If one reflects these qualities even further down then choleric corresponds to fire, air to sanguine, phlegmatic to water, and melancholic to earth — there everything becomes rigid and solid.

Graphic 5

One should hold such figures before one repeatedly. They make it possible that our soul organism is built up in the right way. One must think through such figures clearly. Our inner life can't be strengthened by thoughts that oscillate back and forth. The soul gets stronger if one places such forms before one's spiritual eye.

Graphic 6

Graphic 7
Graphic 8
Graphic 9

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Nature of the Virgin Sophia and of the Holy Spirit

The Gospel of John. Lecture 12 of 12.
Rudolf Steiner, Hamburg, May 31, 1908:


Yesterday we reached the point of discussing the change which takes place in the human astral body through meditation, concentration, and other practices which are given in the various methods of initiation. We have seen that the astral body is thereby affected in such a way that it develops within itself the organs which it needs for perceiving in the higher worlds, and we have said that up to this point the principle of initiation is everywhere really the same — although the forms of its practices conform wholly to the respective cultural epochs. The principal difference appears with the occurrence of the next thing which must follow. In order that the pupil may be able actually to perceive in the higher worlds, it is necessary that the organs which have been formed out of the astral part impress or stamp themselves upon the ether body, be impressed into the etheric element.
The re-fashioning of the astral body indirectly through meditation and concentration is called by an ancient name: “katharsis,” or purification. Katharsis or purification has as its purpose the discarding from the astral body all that hinders it from becoming harmoniously and regularly organized, thus enabling it to acquire higher organs. It is endowed with the germ of these higher organs; it is only necessary to bring forth the forces which are present in it. We have said that the most varied methods can be employed for bringing about this katharsis. A person can go very far in this matter of katharsis if, for example, he has gone through and inwardly experienced all that is in my book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, and feels that this book was for him a stimulation and that now he has reached the point where he can himself actually reproduce the thoughts just as they are there presented. If a person holds the same relationship to this book that a virtuoso, in playing a selection on the piano, holds to the composer of the piece, that is, he reproduces the whole thing within himself — naturally according to his ability to do so — then through the strictly built up sequence of thought of this book — for it is written in this manner — katharsis will be developed to a high degree. For the important point in such things as this book is that the thoughts are all placed in such a way that they become active. In many other books of the present, just by changing the system a little, what has been said earlier in the book can just as well be said later. In the The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity this is not possible. Page 150 can as little be placed fifty pages earlier in the subject matter as the hind legs of a dog can be exchanged with the forelegs, for the book is a logically arranged organism and the working out of the thoughts in it has an effect similar to an inner schooling. Hence there are various methods of bringing about katharsis. If a person has not been successful in doing this after having gone through this book, he should not think that what has been said is untrue, but rather that he has not studied it properly or with sufficient energy or thoroughness.
Something else must now be considered and that is that when this katharsis has taken place, when the astral organs have been formed in the astral body, it must all be imprinted upon the ether body. In the pre-Christian initiation, it was done in the following manner. After the pupil had undergone the suitable preparatory training, which often lasted for years, he was told: The time has now come when the astral body has developed far enough to have astral organs of perception; now these can become aware of their counterpart in the ether body. Then the pupil was subjected to a procedure which today — at least for our cultural epoch — is not only unnecessary, but is not in all seriousness feasible. He was put into a lethargic condition for three and a half days, and was treated during this time in such a way that not only the astral body left the physical and ether bodies — a thing that occurs every night in sleep — but to a certain degree the ether body also was lifted out; but care was taken that the physical body remained intact and that the pupil did not die in the meantime. The ether body was then liberated from the forces of the physical body which act upon it. It had become, as it were, elastic and plastic, and when the sensitory organs that had been formed in the astral body sank down into it, the ether body received an imprint from the whole astral body. When the pupil was brought again into a normal condition by the hierophant, when the astral body and ego were again united with the physical and ether bodies — a procedure which the hierophant well understood — then not only did he experience katharsis, but also what is called “Illumination” or “Photismos.” The pupil could then not only perceive in the world around him all those things that were physically perceptible, but he could employ the spiritual organs of perception, which means he could see and perceive the spiritual. Initiation consisted essentially of these two processes: Purification or Purging, and Illumination.
Then the course of human evolution entered upon a phase in which it gradually became impossible to draw the ether body out of the physical without a very great disturbance in all its functions, because the whole tendency of the post-Atlantean evolution was to cause the ether body to be attached closer and closer to the physical body. It was consequently necessary to carry out other methods of initiation which proceed in such a manner that without the separating of the physical and ether bodies, the astral body, having become sufficiently developed through katharsis and able of itself to return again to the physical and etheric bodies, was able to imprint its organs on the ether body in spite of the hindrance of the physical body. What had to happen was that stronger forces had to become active in meditation and concentration in order that there might be the strong impulse in the astral body for overcoming the power of resistance of the physical body. In the first place there was the actual specifically Christian initiation in which it was necessary for the pupil to undergo the procedure which was described yesterday as the seven steps. When he had undergone these feelings and experiences, his astral body had been so intensely affected it formed its organs of perception plastically — perhaps only after years, but still sooner or later — and then impressed them upon the ether body, thus making of the pupil one of the Illuminati. This kind of initiation which is specifically Christian could only be described fully if I were able to hold lectures about its particular aspects every day for about a fortnight instead of only for a few days. But that is not the important thing. Yesterday you were given certain details of the Christian initiation. We only wish to become acquainted with its principle.
By continually meditating upon passages of the Gospel of St. John, the Christian pupil is actually in a condition to reach initiation without the three and a half day continued lethargic sleep. If each day he allows the first verses of the Gospel of St. John, from “In the beginning was the Word” to the passage “full of grace and truth,” to work upon him, they become an exceedingly significant meditation. They have this force within them, for this Gospel is not there simply to be read and understood in its entirety with the intellect, but it must be inwardly fully experienced and felt. It is a force which comes to the help of initiation and works for it. Then will the “Washing of the Feet,” the “Scourging,” and other inner processes be experienced as astral visions, wholly corresponding to the description in the Gospel itself, beginning with the 13th Chapter.
The Rosicrucian initiation, although resting upon a Christian foundation, works more with other symbolic ideas which produce katharsis, chiefly with imaginative pictures. That is another modification which had to be used, because mankind had progressed a step further in its evolution, and the methods of initiation must conform to what has gradually been evolved.
We must understand that when a person has attained this initiation, he is fundamentally quite different from the person he was before it. While formerly he was only associated with the things of the physical world, he now acquires the possibility likewise of association with the events and beings of the spiritual world. This pre-supposes that the human being acquires knowledge in a much more real sense than in that abstract, dry, prosaic sense in which we usually speak of knowledge. For a person who acquires spiritual knowledge finds the process to be something quite different. It is a complete realization of that beautiful expression “Know thyself.” But the most dangerous thing in the realm of knowledge is to grasp these words erroneously, and today this occurs only too frequently. Many people construe these words to mean that they should no longer look about the physical world, but should gaze into their own inner being and seek there for everything spiritual. This is a very mistaken understanding of the saying, for that is not at all what it means. We must clearly understand that true higher knowledge is also an evolution from one standpoint, which the human being has attained, to another which he had not reached previously. If a person practices self-knowledge only by brooding upon himself, he sees only what he already possesses. He thereby acquires nothing new, but only knowledge of his own lower self in the present meaning of the word. This inner nature is only one part that is necessary for knowledge. The other part that is necessary must be added. Without the two parts, there is no real knowledge. By means of his inner nature, he can develop organs through which he can gain knowledge. But just as the eye, as an external sense organ, would not perceive the sun by gazing into itself, but only by looking outward at the sun, so must the inner perceptive organs gaze outwardly — in other words, gaze into an external spiritual — in order actually to perceive. The concept “Knowledge” had a much deeper, a more real meaning in those ages when spiritual things were better understood than at present. Read in the Bible the words “Abraham knew his wife” or this or that Patriarch “knew his wife.” One does not need to seek very far in order to understand that by this expression fructification is meant. When one considers the words “Know thyself” in the Greek, they do not mean that you stare into your own inner being, but that you fructify yourself with what streams into you from the spiritual world. “Know thyself” means: Fructify thyself with the content of the spiritual world!
Two things are needed for this: namely, that the human being prepare himself through katharsis and illumination, and then that he open his inner being freely to the spiritual world. In this connection we may liken his inner nature to the female aspect, the outer spiritual to the male. The inner being must be made susceptible of receiving the higher self. When this has happened, then the higher human self streams into him from the spiritual world. One may ask: Where is this higher human self? Is it within the personal man? No, it is not there. On Saturn, Sun, and Moon, the higher self was diffused over the entire cosmos. At that time the Cosmic Ego was spread out over all humankind, but now men have to permit it to work upon them. They must permit this Ego to work upon their previously prepared inner natures. This means that the human inner nature — in other words, the astral body — has to be cleansed, purified, and ennobled and subjected to katharsis; then a person may expect that the external spirit will stream into him for his illumination. That will occur when the human being has been so well prepared that he has subjected his astral body to katharsis, thereby developing his inner organs of perception. The astral body, in any case, has progressed so far that now when it dips down into the etheric and physical bodies, illumination or photismos results. What actually occurs is that the astral body imprints its organs upon the ether body, making it possible for the human being to perceive a spiritual world about him; making it possible for his inner being, the astral body, to receive what the etheric body is able to offer to it, what the ether body draws out of the entire cosmos, out of the Cosmic Ego.
This cleansed, purified astral body, which bears within it at the moment of illumination none of the impure impressions of the physical world but only the organs of perception of the spiritual world, is called in esoteric Christianity the “pure, chaste, wise Virgin Sophia.” By means of all that he receives during katharsis, the pupil cleanses and purifies his astral body so that it is transformed into the Virgin Sophia. And when the Virgin Sophia encounters the Cosmic Ego, the Universal Ego which causes illumination, the pupil is surrounded by light, spiritual light. This second power that approaches the Virgin Sophia is called in esoteric Christianity — is also so called today — the “Holy Spirit.” Therefore according to esoteric Christianity it is correct to say that through his processes of initiation the Christian esotericist attains the purification and cleansing of his astral body; he makes his astral body into the Virgin Sophia and is illuminated from above — if you wish, you may call it overshadowed — by the “Holy Spirit,” by the Cosmic, Universal Ego. And a person thus illuminated, who, in other words, according to esoteric Christianity has received the “Holy Spirit” into himself, speaks forthwith in a different manner. How does he speak? When he speaks about Saturn, Sun, and Moon, about the different members of the human being, about the processes of cosmic evolution, he is not expressing his own opinion. His views do not at all come into consideration. When such a person speaks about Saturn, it is Saturn itself that is speaking through him. When he speaks about the Sun, the Spiritual Being of the Sun speaks through him. He is the instrument. His personal ego has been eclipsed, which means that at such moments it has become impersonal and it is the Cosmic Universal Ego that is using his ego as its instrument through which to speak. Therefore, in true esoteric teaching which proceeds from esoteric Christianity, one should not speak of views or opinions, for in the highest sense of the word this is incorrect; there are no such things. According to esoteric Christianity, whoever speaks with the right attitude of mind toward the world will say to himself, for instance: If I tell people that there were two horses outside, the important thing is not that one of them pleases me less than the other and that I think one is a worthless horse. The important point is that I describe the horses to the others and give the facts. In like manner, what has been observed in the spiritual worlds must be described irrespective of all personal opinions. In every spiritual- scientific system of teaching, only the series of facts must be related and this must have nothing to do with the opinions of the one who relates them.
Thus we have acquired two concepts in their spiritual significance. We have learned to know the nature of the Virgin Sophia, which is the purified astral body, and the nature of the “Holy Spirit,” the Cosmic Universal Ego, which is received by the Virgin Sophia and which can then speak out of this purified astral body. There is something else to be attained, a still higher stage: that is the ability to help someone else, the ability to give him the impulse to accomplish both of these. Men of our evolutionary epoch can receive the Virgin Sophia (the purified astral body) and the Holy Spirit (illumination) in the manner described, but only Christ Jesus could give to the Earth what was necessary to accomplish this. He has implanted in the spiritual part of the Earth those forces which make it possible for that to happen at all which has been described in the Christian initiation. You may ask how did this come about?
Two things are necessary for an understanding of this. First we must make ourselves acquainted with something purely historical, that is, with the manner of giving of names, which was quite different in the age in which the Gospels were written from the way in which it is done at present.
Those who interpret the Gospel at present do not at all understand the principle of giving names at the time the Gospels were written and therefore they do not speak as they should. It is, in fact, exceedingly difficult to describe the principle of giving names at that time, yet we can make it comprehensible, even though we only indicate it in rough outlines. Let us suppose, in the case of someone whom we meet, that instead of holding to the name which does not at all fit him, and which has been given to him in the abstract way customary today, we were to harken to and notice his most distinguishing characteristics, were to notice the most prominent attribute of his character, and were in a position to discern clairvoyantly the deeper foundations of his being, then were to give him his name in accordance with those most important qualities which we believe should be attributed to him. Were we to follow such a method of giving names, we should be doing something, at a lower more elementary stage, similar to what was done at that time by those who gave names in the manner of the writer of the Gospel of St. John. In order to make very clear his manner of giving names, let us consider the following:
The author of the St. John's Gospel regarded the physical, historic mother of Jesus in her most prominent characteristics and asked himself, — Where shall I find a name for her which will express most perfectly her real being? Then, because she had, by means of her earlier incarnations, reached those spiritual heights upon which she stood; and because she appeared in her external personality to be a counterpart, a revelation, of what was called in esoteric Christianity the Virgin Sophia, he called the Mother of Jesus the “Virgin Sophia;” and this is what she was always called in the esoteric places where esoteric Christianity was taught. Exoterically he leaves her entirely un-named, in contradistinction to those others who have chosen for her the secular name Mary. He could not take the secular name, he had to express in the name the profound, world historic evolution. He does this by indicating that she cannot be called Mary, and what is more, he places by her side her sister Mary, wife of Cleophas, and calls her simply the “mother of Jesus.” He shows thereby that he does not wish to mention her name, that it cannot be publicly revealed. In esoteric circles she is always called the “Virgin Sophia.” It was she who represented the “Virgin Sophia” as an external historical personality.
If we now wish to penetrate further into the nature of Christianity and its founder, we must take under consideration yet another mystery. We should understand clearly how to make a distinction between the personality who in esoteric Christianit, was called “Jesus of Nazareth” and Him who was called “Christ Jesus,” the Christ dwelling within Jesus of Nazareth.
Now what does this mean? It means that in the historical personality of Jesus of Nazareth we have to do with a highly developed human being who had passed through many incarnations and after a cycle of high development was again reincarnated; a person who, because of this, was attracted to a mother so pure that the writer of the Gospel could call her the “Virgin Sophia.” Thus we are dealing with a highly developed human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who had progressed far in his evolution in his previous incarnations and in this incarnation had entered upon a highly spiritual stage. The other evangelists were not illuminated to such a high degree as the writer of this Gospel. It was more the actual sense-world that was revealed to them, a world in which they saw their Master and Messiah moving about as Jesus of Nazareth. The mysterious spiritual relationships, at least those of the heights into which the writer of the Gospel of St. John could peer, were concealed from them. For this reason they laid special emphasis upon the fact that in Jesus of Nazareth lived the Father, who had always existed in Judaism and was transmitted down through the generations as the God of the Jews. And they expressed this when they said: “If we trace back the ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth through generation after generation, we are able to prove that the same blood flows in Him that has flowed down through these generations.” The evangelists give the genealogical tables and precisely according to them they also show at what different stages of evolution they stand. For Matthew, the important thing is to show that in Jesus of Nazareth we have a person in whom Father Abraham is living. The blood of Father Abraham has flowed down through the generations as far as Jesus. He thus traces the genealogical tables back to Abraham. He has a more materialistic point of view than Luke. The important thing for Luke was not alone to show that the God who lived in Abraham was present in Jesus, but that the ancestry, the line of descent, can be traced back still further, even to Adam, and that Adam was a son of the very Godhead, which means that he belonged to the time when humanity had just made the transition from a spiritual to a physical state. Both Matthew and Luke wished to show that this earthly Jesus of Nazareth has his being only in what can be traced back to the divine Father-power. This was not a matter of importance for the writer of the Gospel of St. John, who could gaze into the spiritual world. The important thing for him was not the words “I and Father Abraham are one,” but that at every moment of time there exists in the human being an Eternal which was present in him before Father Abraham. This he wished to show. In the beginning was the Word which is called the “I AM.” Before all external things and beings, He was. He was in the beginning. For those who wished rather to describe Jesus of Nazareth and were only able to describe him, it was a question of showing how from the beginning the blood flowed down through the generations. It was important to them to show that the same blood flowing down through the generations flowed also in Joseph, the father of Jesus.
If we could speak quite esoterically it would naturally be necessary to speak of the idea of the so-called “virgin birth,” but this can be discussed only in the most intimate circles. It belongs to the deepest mysteries that exist and the misunderstanding connected with this idea arises because people do not know what is meant by the “virgin birth.” They think that it means there was no fatherhood. But it is not that; a much more profound, a more mysterious something lies at the back of it which is quite compatible with what the other disciples wish to show, that is, that Joseph is the father of Jesus. If they were to deny this, then all the trouble they take to show this to be a fact would be meaningless. They wish to show that the ancient God exists in Jesus of Nazareth. Luke especially wished to make this very clear, therefore he traces the whole ancestry back to Adam and then to God. How could he have come to this conclusion if he really wished only to say: I am showing you that this genealogical tree exists, but Joseph, as a matter of fact, had nothing to do with it. It would be very strange if people were to take the trouble to represent Joseph as a very important personality and then were to shove him aside out of the whole affair.
In the event of Palestine we have not only to do with this highly developed personality, Jesus of Nazareth, who had passed through many incarnations, and had developed himself so highly that he needed such an extraordinary mother as the Virgin Sophia, but we have also to do with a second mystery. When Jesus of Nazareth was thirty years of age, he had advanced to such a stage through what he had experienced in his present incarnation that he could perform an action which it is possible for one to perform in exceptional cases. We know that the human being consists of physical, etheric, and astral bodies and an ego. This fourfold human being is the human being as he lives here among us. If a person stands at a certain high stage of evolution, it is possible for him at a particular moment to draw out his ego from the three bodies and abandon them, leaving them intact and entirely uninjured. This ego then goes into the spiritual worlds and the three bodies remain behind. We meet this process at times in cosmic evolution. At some especially exalted, enraptured moment, the ego of a person departs and enters into the spirit world — under certain conditions this can be extended over a long period — and because the three bodies are so highly developed by the ego that lived in them, they are fit instruments for a still higher being who now takes possession of them. In the thirtieth year of Jesus of Nazareth, that Being whom we have called the Christ took possession of his physical, etheric, and astral bodies. This Christ Being could not incarnate in an ordinary child's body, but only in one which had first been prepared by a highly developed ego, for this Christ-Being had never before been incarnated in a physical body. Therefore from the thirtieth year on, we are dealing with the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth.
What in reality took place? The fact is that the corporality of Jesus of Nazareth which he had left behind was so mature, so perfect, that the Sun Logos, the Being of the six Elohim, which we have described as the spiritual Being of the Sun, was able to penetrate into it. It could incarnate for three years in this corporality, could become flesh. The Sun Logos, Who can shine into human beings through illumination, the Sun Logos Himself, the Holy Spirit, entered. The Universal Ego, the Cosmic Ego, entered and from then on during three years, the Sun Logos spoke through the body of Jesus. The Christ speaks through the body of Jesus during these three years. This event is indicated in the Gospel of St. John and also in the other Gospels as the descent of the dove, of the Holy Spirit, upon Jesus of Nazareth. In esoteric Christianity it is said that at that moment the ego of Jesus of Nazareth left his body, and that from then on the Christ is in him, speaking through him in order to teach and work. This is the first event that happens, according to the Gospel of St. John. We now have the Christ within the astral, etheric, and physical bodies of Jesus of Nazareth. There He worked as has been described until the Mystery of Golgotha occurred. What occurred on Golgotha? Let us consider that important moment when the blood flowed from the wounds of the crucified savior. In order that you may understand me better, I shall compare what occurred with something else.
Let us suppose we have here a vessel filled with water. In the water, salt is dissolved and the water becomes quite transparent. Because we have warmed the water, we have made a salt solution. Now let us cool the water. The salt precipitates and we see how the salt condenses below and forms a deposit at the bottom of the vessel. That is the process for one who sees only with physical eyes. But for a person who can see with spiritual eyes, something else is happening. While the salt is condensing below, the spirit of the salt streams up through the water, filling it. The salt can only become condensed when the spirit of the salt has departed from it and become diffused into the water. Those who understand these things know that wherever condensation takes place, a spiritualization also always occurs. What thus condenses below has its counterpart above in the spiritual, just as in the case of the salt, when it condenses and is precipitated below, its spirit streams upward and disseminates. Therefore, it was not only a physical process that took place when the blood flowed from the wounds of the savior, but it was actually accompanied by a spiritual process; that is, the Holy Spirit which was received at the Baptism united Itself with the Earth; that the Christ Himself flowed into the very being of the Earth. From now on, the Earth was changed, and this is the reason for saying to you, in earlier lectures, that if a person had viewed the Earth from a distant star, he would have observed that its whole appearance was altered with the Mystery of Golgotha. The Sun Logos became a part of the Earth, formed an alliance with it and became the Spirit of the Earth. This He achieved by entering into the body of Jesus of Nazareth in his thirtieth year, and by remaining active there for three years, after which He continued to remain on the Earth. Now the important thing is that this event must produce an effect upon the true Christian — that it must give something by which he may gradually develop the beginnings of a purified astral body in the Christian sense. There had to be something there for the Christian whereby he could make his astral body gradually more and more like a Virgin Sophia, and through it, receive into himself the Holy Spirit which was able to spread out over the entire Earth, but which could not be received by anyone whose astral body did not resemble the Virgin Sophia. There had to be something which possesses the power to transform the human astral body into a Virgin Sophia. What is this power? It consists in the fact of Christ Jesus entrusting to the Disciple whom He loved — in other words to the writer of the Gospel of St. John — the mission of describing truly and faithfully through his own illumination the events of Palestine in order that men might be affected by them. If men permit what is written in the Gospel of St. John to work sufficiently upon them, their astral body is in the process of becoming a Virgin Sophia and it will become receptive to the Holy Spirit. Gradually, through the strength of the impulse which emanates from this Gospel, it will become susceptible of feeling the true spirit and later of perceiving it. This mission, this charge, was given to the writer of the Gospel by Jesus Christ. You need but read the Gospel. The Mother of Jesus — the Virgin Sophia in the esoteric meaning of Christianity — stands at the foot of the Cross, and from the Cross the Christ says to the disciple whom He loved: “Henceforth, this is thy Mother” and from this hour the disciple took her unto himself. This means: “That force which was in My astral body and made it capable of becoming bearer of the Holy Spirit I now give over to thee; thou shalt write down what this astral body has been able to acquire through its development.” “And the disciple took her unto himself” — that means he wrote the Gospel of St. John. And this Gospel of St. John is the Gospel in which the writer has concealed powers which develop the Virgin Sophia. At the Cross, the mission was entrusted to him of receiving that force as his mother and of being the true, genuine interpreter of the Messiah. This really means that if you live wholly in accordance with the Gospel of St. John and understand it spiritually, it has the force to lead you to Christian katharsis, it has the power to give you the Virgin Sophia. Then will the Holy Spirit, united with the Earth, grant you illumination or photismos according to the Christian meaning. And what the most intimate disciples experienced there in Palestine was so powerful that from that time on they possessed at least the capacity of perceiving in the spiritual world. The most intimate disciples had received this capacity into themselves. Perceiving in the spirit, in the Christian sense, means that the person transforms his astral body to such a degree through the power of the Event of Palestine that what he sees need not be before him externally and physically-sensible. He possesses something by means of which he can perceive in the spirit. There were such intimate pupils. The woman who anointed the feet of Christ Jesus in Bethany had received through the Event of Palestine the powerful force needed for spiritual perception, and she is, for example, one of those who first understood that what had lived in Jesus was present after His death, that is, had been resurrected. She possessed this faculty. It may be asked: Whence came this possibility? It came through the development of her inner sense-organs. Are we told this in the Gospel? We are indeed; we are told that Mary Magdalene was led to the grave, that the body had disappeared and that she saw there two spiritual forms. These two spiritual forms are always to be seen when a corpse is present for a certain time after death. On the one side is to be seen the astral body, and on the other, what gradually separates from it as ether body, then passing over into the cosmic ether. Wholly apart from the physical body, there are two spiritual forms present which belong to the spiritual world.
Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting.
She beheld this because she had become clairvoyant through the force and power of the Event of Palestine. And she beheld something more: she beheld the Risen Christ. Was it necessary for her to be clairvoyant to be able to behold the Christ? If you have seen a person in physical form a few days ago, do you not think you would recognize him again if he should appear before you?
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing it to be the gardener . ...
And in order that it might be told to us as exactly as possible, it was not only said once, but again at the next appearance of the Risen Christ, when Jesus appeared at the Sea of Gennesareth.
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
The esoteric pupils find Him there. Those who had received the full force of the Event of Palestine could grasp the situation and see that it was the Risen Jesus who could be perceived spiritually. Although the disciples and Mary Magdalene saw Him, yet there were some among them who were less able to develop clairvoyant power. One of these was Thomas. It is said that he was not present the first time the disciples saw the Lord, and he declared he would have to lay his hands in His wounds, he would have to touch physically the body of the Risen Christ. You ask: What happened? The effort was then made to assist him to develop spiritual perception. And how was this done? Let us take the words of the Gospel itself:
And after a week His disciples were again within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, reach hither thy fingers and behold My hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And thou shalt behold something if thou dost not rely upon the outer appearance, but art impregnated with inner power.
This inner power which should proceed from the Event of Palestine is called “Faith.” It is no ordinary force, but an inner clairvoyant power. Permeate thyself with inner power, then thou needest no longer hold as real that only which thou seest externally; for blessed are they who are able to know what they do not see outwardly!
Thus we see that we have to do with the full reality and truth of the Resurrection and that only those are fully able to understand it who have first developed the inner power to perceive in the spirit world. This will make the last chapter of the Gospel of St. John comprehensible to you, in which again and again it is pointed out that the closest followers of Christ Jesus have reached the stage of the Virgin Sophia, because the Event of Golgotha had been consummated in their presence. But when they had to stand firm for the first time, had actually to behold a spiritual event, they were still blinded and had first to find their way. They did not know that He was the same one Who had earlier been among them. Here is something which we must grasp with the most subtle concepts; for the grossly materialistic person would say: “Then the Resurrection is undermined!” The miracle of the Resurrection is to be taken quite literally, for He said: “Lo, I remain with you always, even unto the end of the age, unto the end of the cosmic age.”
He is there and will come again, although not in a form of flesh, but in a form in which those who have been sufficiently developed through the power of the Gospel of St. John can actually perceive Him, and possessing the power to perceive Him, they will no longer be unbelieving. The mission of the Spiritual Science Movement is to prepare those who have the will to allow themselves to be prepared, for the return of the Christ upon Earth. This is the cosmo-historical significance of Spiritual Science, to prepare mankind and to keep its eyes open for the time when the Christ will appear again actively among men in the sixth cultural epoch, in order that that may be accomplished for a great part of humanity which was indicated to us in the Marriage at Cana.
Therefore the world-concept obtained from Spiritual Science appears like an execution of the testament of Christianity. In order to be led to real Christianity the men of the future will have to receive that spiritual teaching which Spiritual Science is able to give. Many people may still say today: Spiritual Science is something that really contradicts true Christianity. But those are the little popes who form opinions about things of which they know nothing and who make into a dogma: What I do not know does not exist.
This intolerance will become greater and greater in the future and Christianity will experience the greatest danger just from those people who, at present, believe they can be called good Christians. The Christianity of Spiritual Science will experience serious attacks from the Christians in name, for all concepts must change if a true spiritual understanding of Christianity is to come about. Above all, the soul must become more and more conversant with and understanding of the legacy of the writer of the Gospel of St. John, the great school of the Virgin Sophia, the St. John's Gospel itself. Only Spiritual Science can lead us deeper into this Gospel.
In these lectures, only examples could be given showing how Spiritual Science can introduce us into the Gospel of St. John, for it is impossible to explain the whole of it. We read in the Gospel itself:
And there are also many other things which Jesus did; and I suppose that were they all written down one after the other, the world could not contain all the books that would have to be written.
Just as the Gospel itself cannot go into all the details of the Event of Palestine, so too is it impossible for even the longest course of lectures to present the full spiritual content of the Gospel. Therefore we must be satisfied with those indications which could be given at this time; we must content ourselves with the thought that through just such indications in the course of human evolution, the true testament of Christianity becomes executed. Let us allow all this to have such an effect upon us that we may possess the power to hold fast to the foundation which we recognize in the Gospel of St. John, when others come to us and say: You are giving us too complicated concepts, too many concepts which we must first make our own in order to comprehend this Gospel: the Gospel is for the simple and naive and one dare not approach them with many concepts and thoughts. Many say this today. They perhaps refer to another saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” One can merely quote such a saying as long as one does not understand it, for it really says: “Blessed are the beggars in spirit, for they shall reach the kingdom of heaven within themselves.” This means that those who are like beggars of the spirit, who desire to receive more and more of the spirit, will find in themselves the kingdom of heaven!
At the present time the idea is all too prevalent that everything religious is identical with all that is primitive and simple. People say: We acknowledge that Science possesses many and complicated ideas, but we do not grant the same to Faith and Religion. Faith and Religion — so say many “Christians” — must be simple and naive! They demand this. And many rely upon a conception which is little quoted perhaps, but which in the present is haunting the minds of men and which Voltaire, one of the great teachers of materialism, has expressed in the words: “Whoever wishes to be a prophet must find believers, for what he asserts must be believed, and only what is simple, what is always repeated in its simplicity, that alone finds believers.”
This is often so with the prophets, both true and false. They take the trouble to say something and to repeat it again and again and the people learn to believe it, because it is constantly repeated. The representative of Spiritual Science desires to be no such prophet. He does not wish to be a prophet at all. And although it may often be said: “Yes, you not only repeat, but you are always elucidating things from other sides, you are always discussing them in other ways;” when they speak thus to him, he is guilty of no fault. A prophet wishes that people believe in him. Spiritual Science has no desire to lead to belief, but to knowledge. Therefore let us take Voltaire's utterance in another way. He says: — “The simple is believed and is the concern of the prophet.” Spiritual Science says: — the manifold is known. Let us try to understand more and more that Spiritual Science is something that is manifold — not a creed, but a path to knowledge, and consequently it bears within it the manifold. Therefore let us not shrink from collecting a great deal in order that we may understand one of the most important Christian documents, the Gospel of St. John. We have attempted to assemble the most varied material which places us in the position of being able to understand more and more the profound truths of this Gospel; able to understand how the physical mother of Jesus was an external manifestation, an external image, of the Virgin Sophia; to understand what spiritual importance the Virgin Sophia had for the pupil of the Mysteries, whom the Christ loved; again to understand how, for the other Evangelists — who view the bodily descent of Jesus as important — the physical father plays his significant part when it was a question of the external imprint of the God-idea in the blood; and further, to understand what significance the Holy Spirit had for John, the Holy Spirit through which the Christ was begotten in the body of Jesus and dwelt therein during the three years and which is symbolized for us in the descent of the Dove at the Baptism by John.
If we understand that we must call the father of Christ Jesus the Holy Spirit who begot the Christ in the bodies of Jesus, then if we are able to comprehend a thing from all sides, we shall find it easy to understand that those disciples who were less highly initiated could not give us so profound a picture of the Events of Palestine as the disciple whom the Lord loved. And if people, at present, speak of the Synoptics — which are the only authoritative Gospels for them — this only shows that they do not have the will to rise to an understanding of the true form of the Gospel of St. John. For everybody resembles the God he understands. If we try to make into a feeling, into an experience, what we can learn from Spiritual Science about the Gospel of St. John, we shall then find that this Gospel is not a textbook, but a force which can be active within our souls.
If these short lectures have aroused in you the feeling that this Gospel contains not only what we have been discussing here but that indirectly, through the medium of words, it contains the force which can develop the soul itself further, then what was really intended in these lectures has been rightly understood. Because in them not only was something intended for the understanding, for the intellectual capacity of understanding, but that which takes its round-about path through this intellectual capacity of understanding should condense into feelings and inner experiences, and these feelings and experiences should be a result of the facts that have been presented here. If, in a certain sense, this has been rightly understood, we shall also comprehend what is meant when it is said that the Movement for Spiritual Science has the mission of raising Christianity into Wisdom, of rightly understanding Christianity, indirectly through spiritual wisdom. We shall understand that Christianity is only in the beginning of its activity, and its true mission will be fulfilled when it is understood in its true spiritual form. The more these lectures are understood in this way the more have they been comprehended in the sense in which they were intended.
Thank you, John Ayre!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The goal of yoga: the union of Christ and Sophia

Rudolf Steiner: An Esoteric Lesson given in Hannover, September 24, 1907. From the notes of a participant.

Christ is a sun-spirit, a fire-spirit. It's his spirit that reveals itself to us in sunlight. It's his breath of life in the air that sweeps around the earth and presses into us with every breath. His body is the earth on which we live. He actually feeds us with his flesh and blood, for all the food we eat is taken from the earth, from his body. We breathe his breath of life that he streams to us through the earth's plant-cover. We see in his light, for the sunlight is his spirit-radiation. We live in his love, even physically, for the sun's warmth that we get is his spiritual force of love, that we perceive as warmth. And our spirit is drawn towards his spirit, as our body is fettered to his body. That's why our body must be consecrated, because we walk on his body. The earth is his holy body that we touch with our feet. And the sun is the manifestation of his holy spirit to which we are allowed to look up. And the air is the manifestation of his holy life that we are allowed to take into us.

So that we could become aware of our self, our spirit, so that we could become spirit-beings ourself, this high sun-spirit sacrificed himself, left his royal abode, descended from the sun and took on physical raiment in the earth. Thus he is physically crucified in the earth. But he spiritually embraces the earth with his light and his love power, and everything that lives on it belongs to him. He's only waiting for us to want to belong to him. If we give ourselves to him completely then he'll not only give us his physical life, but also his higher spiritual sun-life. Then he streams through us with his divine light-spirit, with his warming waves of love, and with his creative God's will.

We can only be what he gives us, what he makes out of us. Everything about us that corresponds to the divine plan is his work. What can we do in addition to this? Nothing but to let him work in us. It's only if we resist his love that he can't work in us. But how could we resist this love? resist him who says “I have always loved you and have drawn you to me out of pure goodness”? He has loved us since the earth's very beginning. We must let his love become a real being in us. Real life, spirit, and bliss are only possible if this life becomes real life for us, becomes Christ's life in us. We can't become pure and holy by ourselves, but only through this Christ-life. All our striving and wrestling is in vain as long as this higher life doesn't fill us. It alone can wash everything out of our nature that's still unpurified, like a clean, pure stream. This is the soul-ground from which this purifying light-life can ascend. There we must seek our dwelling, at his feet and in devotion to him. Then he will transform us himself and stream through us with his divine love-life until we become illumined and pure as he is, become like him. Until he can share his divine consciousness with us. Our soul must become pure and wise through his light — then it can unite with his life. This then is the union of Christ and Sophia, the union of Christ's life with the human soul that has been purified by his light.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Focus lecture for Wednesday's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Diagram 1


Jehovah: The Mysteries of Ephesus and the Aristotelian Categories — the cosmic alphabet.
Esoteric Easter. Lecture 4 of 4.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 22, 1924:

We have seen that out of the Mysteries grew something that made man aware of being related to the world in a way that can be expressed in the annual festivals; and in particular we have learned that Easter is an outgrowth of the principle of initiation. From all that has been set forth it will have become evident what a significant role the Mysteries played in the entire evolution of humanity. Really everything of a spiritual nature that has permeated the world and developed through mankind originated in the old Mysteries. In modern terms we could say that the Mysteries were all-powerful in guiding the spiritual life.

Now, it was intended from the beginning that mankind should develop freedom; and to this end it was necessary for the old Mystery system to recede and for humanity to be less closely linked, for a time, with the powerful guidance that proceeded from the Mysteries, to be cast more upon its own resources, as it were. We certainly cannot assert today that the time has arrived in which men have achieved their true inner freedom and are ready to pass over into the next phase of evolution that is to follow upon that of freedom. This is not the case. Still, many have already passed through a number of incarnations in which the power of the Mysteries was less strongly felt than formerly; and though the seeds of these incarnations have not yet sprouted, they are nevertheless potentially present in the souls of men. And with the coming of a more spiritual age they will develop what they have not developed in their present dimness of vision. Above all things, however, it will be necessary that the wisdom, the vision, the experience of the spiritual such as can be attained by modern initiation be met with esteem, with reverence; and this must be offered out of man's freedom. Without esteem and reverence, true enlightenment and a spiritual life of humanity is really not possible.

Surely we make the right use of festivals if with their help we try to implant in our souls this esteem, this reverence, for things spiritual as they have evolved during the course of human history; if we try to learn how to observe in the most intimate way possible the spiritual significance of outer events, to understand how these carry spiritual meaning from one age over into another. For the time being men keep returning to Earth in repeating incarnations, thus carrying over their experiences of earlier epochs into later ones. Human beings are the most important factor in the further development of all that takes place within the history of mankind. But men of all periods live in a definite environment, and clearly, one of the most significant environments was that of the Mysteries. A most important factor in the progress of humanity is the carrying over of what has been experienced in the Mysteries and re-experienced, be it again through the medium of Mysteries, whence it acts upon mankind, or by other means of enlightenment. Today it must be the latter, for the true Mystery system has withdrawn from the present outer world and is to reappear only in the future.

If the impulse that went forth from here, from the Goetheanum, at the time of the Christmas Meeting really takes root in the Anthroposophical Society, it is certain that by leading to ever deeper insight the Anthroposophical Society will be the foundation for the Mysteries of the future. These new Mysteries must be consciously nurtured by the Anthroposophical Society. We recall an event that can be utilized in our development as once a similar one was used: the burning of the temple of Ephesus. Both were the result of a grave wrong; yet on different planes things have different meanings, and it is possible for a frightful iniquity, as it appears on one plane, to be employed on another for the advancement of human freedom — in the sense that precisely such horrible events can bring about a real advance in human progress.

But as I have already said, such matters must be grasped through their inner meaning if they are to be approached understandingly. One must enter into the particular manner in which the spiritual element of the world pervaded the Mysteries. Yesterday I pointed out how the establishment of the annual Easter festival grew out of a spiritual conception of the constellation of Sun and Moon, and that from the Moon viewpoint the other planets were observed. And I said further that according to what is learned by observing the other planets, the human being, in descending from the pre-earthly to the earthly existence, is guided in forming his light-ether body.

If we would observe and rightly understand how this light-ether body, these ether forces, are transmitted to us by the Moon forces, Moon observations — by what I might call the spiritual Moon observatory — this can be done as we have just endeavored to do it: by turning to the cosmos, where it is all inscribed and exists as a fact. But it is important to ponder in our souls the human element as well, the part it plays in the different epochs as a factor of these truths.

As a matter of fact, never did the souls of men take part so intimately, so fervently, in this last phase of the descent to Earth — the enveloping in an etheric body — as in the Mysteries of Ephesus. There the whole service of the Goddess of Ephesus, exoterically called Artemis, was directed toward co-experiencing the spiritual weaving life within the cosmic ether. When members of the Ephesian Mystery approached the image of the goddess, the feeling this gave them may be said to have become intensified to hearing; and what they heard, as though the goddess were speaking, was something as follows: "I rejoice in all that bears fruit in the wide expanse of cosmic ether." — A deep impression was created by this expression of intense joy on the part of the goddess of the temple, her joy in all that grows, sprouts, and burgeons in the world-ether; and an ardent feeling of close relationship with blossoming and flowering was in particular something that permeated the spiritual atmosphere of the Ephesian sanctuary as with a magic breath.

Nowhere else was the growth of the plant life, the drive of the Earth forces into the plants, co-experienced so intensely as in the Mystery of Ephesus, for the entire training here tended to that end. And this led to the next step: it was here that instruction was given, if I may so call it, specially intended to induce in the minds of members a feeling for the Moon secret, of which I spoke yesterday. It was everyone's own experience to feel himself as a light-being, because the act of receiving his light-form from the Moon was made so alive for the neophytes and initiates.

A part of the ritual ran something as follows — and one who could take part in it was actually transported into that act of forming himself out of the sunlight that circles around the Moon: as though proceeding from the Sun, there came to him the sound J O A.*

* Translator's Note: — For readers not familiar with German it must be explained that j is pronounced like our y in “yet” — in other words, like an excessively short German i. For this reason it is not too strange that one often encounters J for I (but only in capitals), and the above is a case in point. Indeed, there is no choice here but to use it, as the same letter must serve as a pure vowel in J O A and later as a modified vowel in Jehova. — The letters J O A must be pronounced Ee Oh Ah, and Jehova that appears later, Yay-hoh-vah.
He knew that this J O A activated his ego, his astral body. J O (ego, astral body) and A (the approach of the light-ether body), joining in J O A. Then, with the J O A vibrating in him, he felt himself to be composed of ego, astral body, and etheric body.

And then it seemed as though he heard sounding up to him from the Earth — for he had been transported into the cosmos — something that saturated the J O A: eh v.  Jeh Ov A  What rose up to him in the eh v were the Earth forces.

Now he realized that in this Jeh Ov A he felt the complete human being. The premonition of the physical body, which he acquired only on Earth, he felt intimated in the consonants complementing the vowels that in the J O A indicate the ego, the astral body, and the etheric body. — This becoming one with the Jeh Ov A was what enabled the disciple of Ephesus to sense in their full significance the last steps of the descent from the spiritual world.

But in feeling the import of this J O A the neophyte at the same time felt himself to be the sound J O A in the light. Then he was a human being: resonant ego, resonant astral body, in a shimmering light-ether body. He was sound in light. That is the nature of cosmic man; and in this state the initiate was able to grasp what he saw in the cosmos, just as on Earth he could perceive through his eyes what occurs in the physical environment of the Earth. When the neophyte of Ephesus bore this J O A within him he really felt transported into the Moon sphere, and he took part in all that could be observed from the point of view of the Moon.
Diagram 1

In this condition the human being was man in general, in the sense that the differentiation between man and woman did not enter until the descent to Earth occurred. Man felt himself transported into this pre-earthly existence, the region immediately preceding his approach to the terrestrial. The Ephesian disciples were able to achieve this ascent to the Moon sphere in a particularly intimate way; and henceforth they carried in their heart, in their soul, what they had experienced there. It sounded for them something as follows:

World-engendered being, thou art shaped in light,
By the Sun empowered in the Moon's full might;

Mars' creating chiming, power to thee is bringing,
And Mercury, moving limbs in oscillation swinging;

Jupiter's radiant wisdom is on thee gleaming,
And Venus' love-bearing beauty is on thee beaming;

So that Saturn's world-aged spirit-inwardness
Doth to space's being and to ages now aborning consecrate thee.*

* Translation by Henry B. Monges.

another translation:

Offspring of all the Worlds! Thou Form of Light,
Firm framéd by the Sun, with Luna's might,

Endow'd with sounding Mars' life-stirring song,
And swift-wing'd Mercury's motion in thy limbs,

Illum'd with royal Jupiter's all-wisdom
And grace-bestowing Venus' loveliness —

That ghostly Saturn's ancient memoried devoutness
Unto the world of Space and Time thee hallow!

the original German:

Weltentsprossenes Wesen, du in Lichtgestalt,
Von der Sonne erkraftet in der Mondgewalt,

Dich beschenket des Mars erschaffendes Klingen
Und Merkurs gliedbewegendes Schwingen,

Dich erleuchtet Jupiters erstrahlende Weisheit
Und der Venus liebetragende Schönheit,

Dass Saturns weltenalte Geist-Innigkeit
Dich dem Raumessein und Zeitenwerden weihe!

That expresses what permeated every Ephesian, and he counted it the most important of all that pulsed through his being. When a participant in the Ephesian Mysteries heard these words ringing in his ears, as it were, there was something about them that made him feel himself completely as a human being; for through them he became aware of the relation between the forces of his etheric body and the planetary system. This came to forceful expression. The cosmos speaks to the etheric body:

World-engendered being, thou art shaped in light,
By the Sun empowered in the Moon's full might.

Now the human being feels himself to be in the power of the moonlight.

Mars' creating chiming, power to thee is bringing.

The chiming, endowed with creative force, sounds across from Mars.

And what gave strength to man's limbs, endowing him with the power of movement:

And Mercury, moving limbs in oscillation swinging.

From Jupiter there rays across:

Jupiter's radiant wisdom is on thee gleaming.

And from Venus:

And Venus' love-bearing beauty ...

In order that then Saturn may gather up all that rounds off the human being within and without, prepare him to descend to Earth and there to clothe himself in a physical garb; and then further enable this physically garbed being, who bears the god within him, to live on the Earth:

So that Saturn's world-aged spirit-inwardness
Doth to space's being
And to ages now aborning
Consecrate thee.

From what I have described you can readily see that the spiritual life in Ephesus was colorful and aglow with inner light. Epitomized in the thought of Easter, it comprised really everything that had ever been known about man's true dignity in the cosmos, in the whole universe. And many of the wanderers I mentioned yesterday — those who went from one Mystery to another in order to benefit by the totality of the Mysteries — many of these have repeatedly assured us that nowhere else as in Ephesus — at least, not so joyously — did they perceive so intimately and brightly the harmony of the spheres through that Moon point of view, where the radiant astral light of the world shone on them, where they sensed it in the spiritual sunlight flooding the Moon: in other Mysteries the saturation of man's soul and spirit with astral light was not felt with such an intense, inner artistic grasp.

All this was associated with the temple that went up in flames by the hand of a criminal or a lunatic. But as I mentioned during the Christmas Conference, initiates of the Ephesian Mysteries were re-embodied in Aristotle and Alexander; and these personalities came close to what was still capable of being sensed, in their time, of the Mysteries of Samothrace.

Now, what appears to be an outwardly fortuitous event can be of great spiritual significance in world evolution. Among ourselves it has frequently been mentioned for years that the Temple of Ephesus was burned at the hour in which Alexander the Great was born. But as this temple burned, something significant occurred.

What untold experiences had come to the dwellers in that temple through the centuries! What a wealth of spiritual light and wisdom had suffused its halls! And while the flames lept up from the Temple of Ephesus, all that wisdom was imparted to the cosmic ether, so that we may say: the perpetually recurring Easter festival of Ephesus that had been locked in the temple halls was henceforth inscribed in the dome of the universe, in so far as this is etheric, though in less legible letters.

That is often the way things work out: much human wisdom that in olden times had been enclosed within temple walls was released, was inscribed in the world-ether, and there at once becomes visible to one who ascends to real imagination. And this imagination is the interpreter, as it were, of the secret of the stars: what once was secret within the temples has been inscribed in the world-ether, and there it can be read by means of imagination.

We can put it another way, but it means the same. I go out into the starlit night, contemplate the firmament and throw myself open to it. Then, if I have the right capacity, the forms of the constellations and the movements of the planets are transmuted as into vast cosmic script. And if I read this script, something emerges like that which I explained yesterday in referring to the Moon secret. When the stars no longer remain merely something to be mathematically and mechanically computed, but become the alphabet of cosmic script, these things can indeed be read there.

But I should like to develop the matter further. When Alexander and Aristotle approached the Kabirian secrets in Samothrace at a time when the old Mysteries were already on the decline, [Samothrace still existed as a memorial and also as a sanctuary for work, but in the main the Mystery schools had declined in the time of Alexander] something occurred to them at that moment through the influence of the Kabirian Mysteries like a memory of the old Ephesian time, which both had passed through in a certain century. And once more there resounded the J O A, and again they heard intoned:
World-engendered being, thou art shaped in light,
By the Sun empowered in the Moon's full might;

Mars' creating chiming, power to thee is bringing,
And Mercury, moving limbs in oscillation swinging;

Jupiter's radiant wisdom is on thee gleaming,
And Venus' love-bearing beauty is on thee beaming;

So that Saturn's world-aged spirit-inwardness
Doth to space's being and to ages now aborning consecrate thee.

But in this memory, this historical recollection of something ancient, there resided a certain power, the power to create something new. And from that moment there streamed forth this power to create something new — but it was something strange and little observed by mankind. For you must really first understand the nature of this creative power that went forth from the collaboration of Alexander and Aristotle.

Take any notable poem or other work of art — it can be a most beautiful one, such as the Bhagavad Gita or Goethe's Faust or his Iphigenia — anything you value very highly — and reflect on its rich and mighty content — let us say, on the content of Goethe's Faust. Now, by what means, my dear friends, is this rich content transmitted to you? Let us assume that it is transmitted in the ordinary way, as it is to most people. At some time during your life you read Faust. What did you encounter on the physical plane — on the paper? Nothing but combinations of a b c and so forth. The means by which the mighty content of Faust is disclosed to us consists only of combinations of the letters of the alphabet. If you know the alphabet, the paper contains nothing that does not correspond with one of the twenty-odd letters. Something is conjured up out of these twenty-odd letters — if you know how to read — that evokes for you the whole glorious substance of Faust. You may find it excessively tiresome to recite the alphabet, and you may consider it as abstract as anything could well be; yet rightly combined, this superlative abstraction gives us the whole of Faust.

Now, when there was heard again the cosmic resounding from the Moon that disclosed to Aristotle and Alexander what the blaze of Ephesus signified, how that fire had carried the secret of Ephesus out into the world-ether, there came to Aristotle the inspiration to found the cosmic script. This, however, is not achieved by means of the alphabet, but rather through thoughts, as book writing is made up of letters. And so the letters of the cosmic script came into being. — When I write them down for you they are just as abstract as the alphabet:

Quantity (amount)Position
Quality (attribute)Having

There you have a number of concepts. They originated when Aristotle laid them before Alexander. Learn to accomplish with these concepts what you do with the alphabet, and you will have learned to read in the cosmos by means of Being, Quantity, Quality, Relationship, Space, Time, Position, Having, Doing, Suffering.

In our age of abstractions something peculiar happened to logic, as it is taught in the schools. Imagine a custom existing in some school to teach — not reading, but, for instance, to provide books from which the pupils had to keep learning the letters in all conceivable combinations, but never arriving at using them for envisioning the wealth of the contents: that would be the same as what the world has done to Aristotle's Logic. In the books on logic are listed his categories — that's what people call them. People memorize them, but have no idea what to do with them. It is exactly like memorizing the alphabet without knowing how to apply it.

Reading the cosmic records bases on something just as simple as extracting the content of Faust by means of the alphabet — it must merely be learned. And fundamentally, all that anthroposophy has ever brought forth or ever will has been experienced by means of these concepts, just as what is read in Faust is experienced through the letters. For all the secrets of the physical and the spiritual world are comprised in these simple concepts that are the cosmic alphabet.

Something intervened in Earth evolution at the time of Alexander that stands in contrast with the direct perception so characteristic of Ephesus. It did not develop till later, especially during the Middle Ages; and it is deeply hidden, profoundly esoteric. Profoundly esoteric is the meaning that dwells in those ten simple concepts; and actually we are learning more and more to live in them. But we must keep striving to experience them as livingly in our soul as we do the alphabet when a wealth of spiritual substance is in question.

Thus you see how something that for thousands of years had been a mighty instinctive revelation of wisdom flowed into ten concepts, whose inner power and light, however, remain to be re-disclosed. And when man will have learned again to read in the cosmos, when he will experience the resurrection of what has lain buried as though in a grave during this interlude in human evolution between the two spiritual ages, then it will come about at some future time that the world wisdom, the light of the world, will be found again. It is our task, my dear friends, to bring to light again what is hidden. We must make of Easter an experience for all humanity. And just as it could be said on other occasions that anthroposophy is a Christmas experience, so it is in its whole manifestation an Easter experience, a resurrection experience coupled with an experience of the grave. And it is especially important during this Easter gathering that we should feel, if I may so express it, the solemnity of anthroposophic striving by realizing that today we can turn to a spiritual Being Who may be close to us, directly beyond the threshold, and appeal to Him thus: Oh, how blessed was mankind at one time with divine-spiritual revelation that still shone so very bright in Ephesus! But now all that is buried. How can I uncover what is so deeply buried? — for one would like to believe that what once existed might in some historical way be found again in the grave where it lies.

Then the Being will reply to us, as did once before a like being in a similar case: What you seek is no longer here. It is in your heart, if only you will unlock your heart in the right way.

Anthroposophy is indeed latent in the hearts of men, but it is for these human hearts to open in the right way. That is what we must deeply feel. Then we will be led back — not instinctively, as of old, but in full awareness — to the wisdom that lived and shone in the Mysteries.

All this I would like to implant in your hearts, my dear friends, at this Easter time; for to permeate yourself with something that can enkindle a feeling of solemnity in every heart dedicated to anthroposophy, that is something which carries up into the spiritual world and which must be correlated with the Christmas impulse given at Dornach. For this impulse must not remain a thought-out, intellectualistic one, but must spring from the heart; it must not be formal or matter-of-fact, nor must it be sentimental: it must issue from the cause itself and bear the mark of solemnity. When the conflagration at Ephesus blazed up, first in the outer ether and then in the heart of Aristotle, it revealed anew to Aristotle the secrets that could then be epitomized in the simplest terms; and we may say in all modesty that, just as he was able to use the fire of Ephesus to this end, so it is our task — and we shall fulfill it — to use what the flames of the Goetheanum carried into the ether: the aims and purpose of anthroposophy.

What do we gather from all this, my dear friends? That at the memorial service in the Christmas-New Year time, the time in which the disaster struck us a year before, it was vouchsafed us to send forth a new impulse from the Goetheanum. How could this be? Because we are right in feeling that what had previously been a cause pertaining to this Earth, worked for and established as such, was carried by the flames out into cosmic space. Because this misfortune has come to us we are, recognizing its consequences, justified in saying: Now we understand that we may no longer represent a mere Earth cause, but must know it as one of wide etheric space in which the spirit lives: the cause represented by the Goetheanum is a cause of the cosmic ether in which lives the spirit-filled wisdom of the world. It has been carried out into the ether; and it is granted us to permeate ourselves with the Goetheanum impulses flowing in from the cosmos.

Take this in any sense — as an image, if you like: even as an image it signifies a profound truth, a truth that can be simply expressed: the Christmas impulse calls for the permeation of anthroposophical activity with an esoteric element. This is present because what had been earthly now reacts on the impulses of the anthroposophical movement through the astral light in the physical fire that rayed forth into cosmic space; but we must be able to receive these impulses.

Then, if we are able to receive them, we feel a certain important link in the chain of all that lives in anthroposophy: it is the anthroposophical Easter spirit, which can never in the world believe that the spirit perishes, but rather that it arises ever and again after dying through the world; and anthroposophy must hold fast to the spirit resurrected again and again out of eternal depths.

That is what we will take into our hearts as the Easter thought, the Easter feeling; and from this gathering we shall carry away feelings, my dear friends, that will fill us with courage and strength for work when we return to our allotted spheres.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Each of us is right where we are supposed to be.

From p. 288 of  I Am the Word by Paul Selig:

"When you understand for a moment that you are right where you are supposed to be in your consciousness and that the circumstances around you are things that you have created to bring you to this place of consciousness, you can then change them. But the perfection that you find in this moment of awareness will be profound. 'I am where I am. I see where I am. I am right where I am supposed to be' will liberate you to take change as the miracle that it is. You have opportunities to grow, as does everyone. And you are all where you are supposed to be given what you know, what you have had available to you, and what you have come here to learn."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The perfect dance of life

From pp. 287-288 of  I Am the Word by Paul Selig:

"We ask today that you take a walk and that you witness everyone that you pass as in their perfect place in time. We ask that you understand for a moment in time that every man and woman is where they need to be, where they have chosen to be, for the learning that they require, on this day, in this moment. When you understand this, then you will understand that you are the same and we are all in this dance together. And this dance, finally, is in its perfection and cannot be otherwise."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Destiny! Destiny!

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."  — Emerson

It's loaded, and I'm not afraid to use it.

From page 119 of  I Am the Word, a text channeled through Paul Selig:
"Everyone, please, in your imagination at this time imagine that a hand is being placed on your heart center and the energies coming through this hand are the energies of the Creator. And the heart is now aligning to the vibration of the Word. And as it does so, your heart explodes in a beautiful light and a flame of the Creator that burns within you."