Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Is this not love?"

Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, chapter six:

I remember the morning that I first asked the meaning of the word "love." This was before I knew many words. I had found a few early violets in the garden and brought them to my teacher. She tried to kiss me; but at that time I did not like to have any one kiss me except my mother. Miss Sullivan put her arm gently round me and spelled into my hand, "I love Helen."

"What is love?" I asked.

She drew me closer to her and said, "It is here," pointing to my heart, whose beats I was conscious of for the first time. Her words puzzled me very much because I did not then understand anything unless I touched it.

I smelt the violets in her hand and asked, half in words, half in signs, a question which meant, "Is love the sweeetness of flowers?"

"No," said my teacher.

Again I thought. The warm sun was shining on us.

"Is this not love?" I asked, pointing in the direction from which the heat came. "Is this not love?"

It seemed to me that there could be nothing more beautiful than the sun, whose warmth makes all things grow. But Miss Sullivan shook her head, and I was greatly puzzled and disappointed. I thought it strange that my teacher could not show me love.

A day or two afterward I was stringing beads of different sizes in symmetrical groups--two large beads, three small ones, and so on. I had made many mistakes, and Miss Sullivan had pointed them out again and again with gentle patience. Finally I noticed a very obvious error in the sequence and for an instant I concentrated my attention on the lesson and tried to think how I should have arranged the beads. Miss Sullivan touched my forehead and spelled with decided emphasis, "Think."

In a flash I knew that the word was the name of the process that was going on in my head. This was my first conscious perception of an abstract idea.

For a long time I was still--I was not thinking of the beads in my lap, but trying to find a meaning for "love" in the light of this new idea. The sun had been under a cloud all day, and there had been brief showers; but suddenly the sun broke forth in all its southern splendour.

Again I asked my teacher, "Is this not love?"

"Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out," she replied. Then in simpler words than these, which at that tiime I could not have understood, she explained: "You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play."

The beautiful truth burst upon my mind--I felt that there were invisible lines stretched between my spirit and the spirits of others.

The Moon Religion of Jahve and Its Reflection in Arabism. The Penetration of the Buddha-Mercury Stream into Rosicrucianism.

Background to the Gospel of Mark. Lecture 9.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 13, 1911:
Our talk today must bring to a temporary conclusion the studies which during the last few weeks we have connected in a somewhat loose and irregular way with the Gospel according to Mark.

In the lectures you have heard during this winter we have tried to make you realize that we stand today at a period of transition. Even by those who consider spiritual life in a somewhat external way, it can be noticed that a new order of ideas and thoughts is gradually emerging, though the people living within the new order may themselves be unaware of it. It will therefore be well if such a stimulus can be given to your thoughts this evening as will enable you to carry somewhat further the spiritual scientific matter already imparted to you.

In speaking of periods of transition, it is helpful to recall the great “period of transition” through which human evolution passed, often mentioned by me as the great incisive moment of the Event of Palestine. What this moment meant we know from many things that have been spoken of here.

When we try to form a conception of how this most important “idea” — for so we may call it — the Christ-idea, developed out of the thoughts and feelings of the age immediately preceding it, it is well to remember that the Jahve or Jehova-idea meant as much to the ancient Hebrews as the Christ-idea does to the believers in Christ. From other lectures you know that for those who enter deeply into the essence of Christianity Jahve did not really differ very greatly from the Christ Himself. We must realize far more clearly the inward connection between the Christ-idea and the Jahve-idea. It is very difficult to give, in a few words, the whole connection between these two ideas which has been developed by me in many lectures and cycles in recent years, but it is possible to show in a parable how this connection has to be thought of. We have but to recall the symbol of the sunlight to which your attention has often been directed; how this comes to us either directly from the Sun or reflected back from the Moon at night, especially when the Moon is at the full. Sunlight comes to us from the full Moon, but reflected sunlight, which is somewhat different from direct sunlight. Were we to compare the Christ with direct sunlight, then Jahve might be likened to sunlight reflected from the Moon; this represents exactly what is met with here in the evolution of mankind. Those who understand such things can feel the passing over of the reflection of Christ into Jehova, or of Jehova into Christ, as men feel the difference between moonlight and sunlight — Jahve being an indirect and Christ a direct revelation of the same being. But in thinking of “evolution,” we must think of things side by side in space, and following each other in time. Those who have to speak of such things from the occult point of view say: — If we call the religion of Christ a “Sun religion” (and we can use this expression when we remember what has been said concerning Zarathustra), then the religion of Jahve can be called a Moon religion.

So in the period preceding Christianity we have a Sun religion prepared for by a Moon religion. What has just been said will only be rightly appreciated by those who know that symbols are not chosen arbitrarily, but are deeply rooted in the things they represent. When any religion or world-faith is represented by a symbol, this represents, for those who know how to interpret it, the essential thing in that religion. Perhaps men have lost understanding today to a certain extent of a symbolism which sees the Moon as representing the religion of Jahve, and also of the connection between the Christian religion and the symbol of the Sun; but where thoughts are completely filled with the meaning of such symbols, they have to be considered.

Call to mind how I have described the whole course of human evolution. First we have a descending evolution which began when man was first driven out of the spiritual world and entered ever more deeply into matter. This is a descending path. When we picture the general course of human evolution we think of the deepest point as having been reached at the time the Impulse of Christ entered, and that through this Impulse the descending direction was gradually changed to an ascending one.

In human evolution we have at first a descending path, then after the deepest point is reached the Christ-Impulse begins to affect it and will continue to do so till Earth reaches the end of its mission.

Now, evolution occurs in a very complicated way; certain conditions of its progress are the result of impulses which had been given at an earlier time. It was an evolutionary event such as this that took place through the Christ-Impulse. The Christ-Impulse was poured forth at the beginning of our era and advanced in a direct line, and growing ever more and more powerful it will permeate all human life until earthly evolution has reached its goal. This is an impulse that was imparted once, and we have to picture it as advancing in a straight line; any evolution that arose later is seen through it to be at a higher and more perfect stage. There are many such impulses, and also others, affecting the evolution of the world which work differently, and cannot he said to advance on straight lines. We distinguished in post-Atlantean evolution the ancient Indian civilization, following it the ancient Persian, the Egypto-Chaldean, then the Greco-Latin; and in the middle of this period the Christ-Event took place. In the fifth post-Atlantean age, in which we are now living, certain things are repeated which occurred in the third age — the Egypto-Chaldean — but a somewhat different way, and so that between them and maintaining a certain relationship between the third and the fifth ages we have the Christ-Impulse. This relationship is maintained in the same way between the sixth age and the second, and between the seventh and the first. We are here concerned with powerful factors of evolution which are revealed in such a way that in referring to them we can make use of the Biblical expression: “The first shall be last.” The primeval Indian age will reappear in the seventh age in another form — yet so that it will be recognizable.

There is another way in which an earlier is seen to affect a later, and this is shown through the fact that we can distinguish smaller epochs. Thus, what took place in pre-Christian times during the ancient Hebrew civilization appears again in a certain way in post-Christian times — overpassing the Christ-Impulse, as it were — ideas which had been prepared within the religion of Jehova appeared again, and, in spite of other factors being present, had an effect on these later times.

Were I to explain symbolically what I cannot deal with adequately today owing to the short time at my disposal, I might say: If we feel that the religion of Jehova is represented by the symbol of the Moon in contradistinction to the Sun, we might expect that a similar belief, overpassing Christianity, would re-emerge at a later day. This did occur, and if such things are not accepted in an external sense or smiled at — for they are deeply connected with the symbolism of religions — we may say that the old Moon religion of Jehova appeared again in the religion of the half-moon, the Crescent, that its influence, which had preceded the Christ-Event, was carried over into post-Christian times. The repetition of an earlier age in a later is seen with overwhelming results in the last third of the Greco-Latin period, which is reckoned by us in an occult sense as continuing to about the 12th-13th century. This means that after having been separated from it by a period of six hundred years, we have a kind of repetition of the Moon religion of Jehova in the religion brought by the Arabs from Africa into Spain. It is not possible to specify here all the characteristics it brought with it. But it is important that we should impress on our souls the fact that in the religion of Mahomet the Christ-Impulse was at first disregarded, that in it we have really a kind of revival of the religion of Moses — the religion of the one indivisible God. Only into the idea of this indivisible Godhead something was introduced that had come over from the other side — from the Egypto-Chaldean viewpoint — which preserved very exact traditions concerning the relationship of the starry heavens to worldly events. Hence many of the thoughts and ideas found among the Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Assyrians are found again in the religion of Mahomed, but permeated in an extraordinary way with what we might call the teaching concerning the indivisible divinity of Jehova. Speaking scientifically, what meets us in Arabism is a synthesis of all that was taught by the priests of Egypt and Chaldea, and in the Jahve religion of the ancient Hebrews.

In a union of this kind there is not only a compression, but there is also always something excluded and left behind. Everything which led to clairvoyant perception was excluded from it. What remained was merely a matter of intellectual research, of a combining of thought, so that all the ideas connected with the Egyptian art of healing and Chaldean astronomy, which both among the Egyptians and the Chaldeans was the outcome of ancient clairvoyance, is found in an intellectual and individualistic form in the Arabism of Mahomet.

Something filtered into Europe along with the Arabs by which all the old ideas that had prevailed among the Egyptians and Chaldeans were stripped of their clairvoyant imaginative content and given abstract forms. From this sprang the marvellous science which the Arabs brought from Africa to Europe by way of Spain. If Christianity brought an impulse mainly for the souls of men, then the great Impulse for the human head, for the intellect, came through the Arabs. Those who are not fully acquainted with the course of human evolution have no idea what the mental outlook that appeared anew under the symbol of the Moon gave to humanity as a whole. Keppler and Copernicus would not have been possible without this impulse which the Arabs brought to Europe. The whole method of thought, the manner in which different religious views were connected with the laying aside of the old clairvoyance, is seen again in our modern astronomy and modern science when the third period of culture celebrated its revival in our fifth age. Thus we have to see the evolution of man progressing on the one hand, so that the Impulse of Christ reaches the people of Europe directly by way of Greece and Italy; and, on the other hand, we see it taking a more southernly route which, leaving Greece and Italy on one side, unites with what came to us through the Arabs.

By the union of the religion of Christ with that of Mahomet there arose, during this most important period with which we are dealing, what really forms the content of our culture. From causes which cannot be gone into today, we must reckon a period of from six to six-and-a-half centuries for such an impulse to develop; so that the renewed Moon culture actually arose, spread, and entered Europe six hundred years after the Event of Christ, and until the thirteenth century it enriched that Christian civilization which had received its direct irnpulses by other paths. Even those who only observe the external course of events know that, however much they are opposed to Arabism, Arabian thought and science entered even into the cloisters of Western Europe, and up to the middle of the thirteenth century (which again indicates something important) we have a blending of these two impulses — the Arabian and the direct Christ Impulse.

We may say that the Sun symbol and the Moon symbol were merged into one from the fifth and sixth centuries until between the twelfth and thirteenth, this being again a period that lasted for about six hundred years. After this direct union had reached its goal, something new arose which had been in gradual preparation since the twelfth and thirteenth century. It is interesting to note that even external sciences recognize that som-thing inexplicable passed through the souls of the people of Europe at that time. External science calls it “inexplicable,” but occultism says that, following the direct Impulse of Christ, there was poured by spiritual means into the souls of men what the fourth period of post-Atlantean culture had to give. The age of Greece threw up a following wave of culture called the culture of the Renaissance; it enriched everything that already existed through the centuries that followed. This was because the age of Greece, which occurred in the middle of the seven periods of post-Atlantean civilization, underwent a certain renewal in the culture of the Renaissance.

This points again to a period of six hundred years — that is, up to our own time — in which this wave of Greek culture has to a certain extent been exhausted. We are living within this period. We are living today in an atmosphere (as we are again at the beginning of a six-hundred-year-long wave of culture) into which something new is pressing; an age which must again be enriched with something new from the Christ Impulse. After the Moon cult had its revival in the religion of the Crescent during the Renaissance, the time is now come when the Christ Impulse, which continued as the direct stream, has to receive into it a neighboring stream. Our age is powerfully attracted toward this neighboring stream — only we must clearly understand what the addition of it to our civilization means. All these things are absolutely in accordance with the correct progress of an occult system.

If we think of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, according to the old — not the new — sequence, we may expect, after the renewal of the Moon-wave during the Renaissance, the influx of another stream to which we can quite correctly assign the symbol of Mercury. We might therefore say theoretically when this symbol appeared that we were confronted with the influx into our culture of a wave of a kind of Mercury influence, just as the wave of Arabism was called a Moon influence.

If we understand the evolution of our own time aright we may describe Goethe as the last great mind who united in himself the fullness of science, of Christianity, and of the culture of the Renaissance; and we might expect that his soul would reveal a beautiful union of these — intellectualism enriched as it had been by Arabism and Christianity. If we study Goethe as we have been accustomed to do for some years past, it is easily seen that these elements did indeed meet within his soul. But in accordance with what has just been announced concerning the repeated cycle of six, and again six centuries, we might expect that nothing of the Mercury element could have appeared as yet in Goethe's soul — that could only appear as something new after his time. Now, it is interesting to note that Goethe's pupil, Schopenhauer, reveals this Mercury influence. You can learn from some of my publications that Eastern wisdom entered into Schopenhauer's philosophy, especially in the form of Buddhism. Mercury was regarded as the symbol of Buddhism, and following on the age of Goethe we have a revival of the Buddha Impulse (in which Buddha stands for Mercury and Mercury for Buddha) in the same way as the Moon is symbolic of Arabism. We can now give a name to this neighboring stream that entered the direct Christ Impulse as a new tributary at the beginning of a new six-hundred-year epoch. We have to see in this neighboring stream a revival of Buddhism — only with the restrictions I explained in my public lectures on Buddha. [ 1 ]

We now ask: Which is the direct stream of the culture of the future? The Christ stream! It advances in a direct line. And what neighboring streams are there? We have first the Arabian stream, which flowed into the direct stream, paused for a time, and then received purification through the culture of the Renaissance. At present we are experiencing a renewed influx of the Buddha stream. When these facts are seen in their right light, we realize that we have to absorb certain elements out of the Buddha stream which until now could not be received into our Western civilization. We have to see how these elements of the Buddha stream must pass into the spiritual development of the West. — such things, for instance, as the idea of reincarnation and karma. These must be accepted. But one fact must be firmly impressed on our souls: All these neighboring streams will never be able to throw light on the central facts of our spiritual science. To question Buddhism or any other pre-Christian Oriental religion that may have appeared as a revival in our time concerning the Christ would be as sensible as for a European Christian to have questioned the Arabs of Spain concerning the nature of Christ!

The people of Europe were well aware that no conception of the Christ could come from the Arabs. If they had anything to say, their ideas would not accord with the real Christ-idea. The various prophets who arose as false Messiahs up to Schabbathoi Zewi were really the outcome of Arabism, and had no knowledge of the Christ Impulse. We must understand that the neighboring stream of Arabism had to he made fruitful by quite other elements, not by solving in any way the central mystery of Christ. This must also be our attitude toward the stream which approaches us today as the renewal of an ancient one, bringing us understanding of reincarnation and karma, but being incapable of imparting understanding of the Christ Impulse. For this would be as absurd as to think the Arabs could impart a right conception of Christ to the people of Europe. They imparted many ideas concerning false Messiahs to Europe up to the time of Schabbathoi Zewi, and such things will occur again, for human evolution only progresses when strengthened by seeing through such deceptions. We must penetrate ever more deeply and consciously into these connections. Facts will show that the spiritual science founded by European Rosicrucians, with Christ as its central idea, will be established in the souls of men against all opposition and all misleadings.

How the central idea of the Christ must enter men's souls, how the Christ must be interwoven not only with the general evolution of man but with the whole world, can he gathered from my book “An Outline of Occult Science.”

From it you can find which is the direct path, the forward path. Everyone has the possibility of hearing of this path who understands the words from the Gospel of Matthew quoted at the end of the last lecture: “False Christs and false prophets will appear when people will say unto you: Lo, here is the Christ or lo, there! believe it not.”

Alongside the Buddhistic stream of thought is another far removed from it, which thinks it is better informed regarding the Christ than the Western spiritual science of the Rosicrucians. It brings all kinds of ideas and teachings into the world which have developed quite naturally out of the neighboring oriental Buddhist stream. It would show the worst kind of weakness in Western souls if they were unable to grasp the fact that the Buddha stream, the Mercury stream, has as little light to throw on the direct course of the Christ idea as Arabism has. This is not put forward from any spirit of dogmatism or fantasy, but from knowledge of the objective course of the evolution of the world. It can be proved by figures or by the trend of civilizations, if you wish to follow them up, that things must be as is taught by occult science.

Added to this there is also the necessity to distinguish between an ancient orthodox Buddhism which seeks to transplant a non-progressive Buddhism into Europe, and out of it to develop a “Christ-idea,” and a truly progressive Buddhism. This means, there are people who speak of Buddha as follows: “Look to Buddha, who lived some five to six hundred years before our era! Look to what he taught!” What such people say is comparable with what spiritual science says in a Rosicrucian sense: “It is your fault, not Buddha's, that you speak as if Buddha had remained at the same stage at which he stood five to six centuries before our era. Can you not think or imagine that Buddha has progressed?” When speaking thus, these people refer to a teaching suited to a time long past; of a teaching given by Buddha five to six centuries before our era. But we look to a Buddha who has advanced, and who from spiritual realms exercises his enduring influence on human culture. We look to the Buddha we presented to you in our studies on the Gospel of Luke, whose influence came from the Jesus of the Nathan line of the house of David; we look to the Buddha as he has evolved further in spiritual realms, and who imparts truths to us today concerning the things of which we are speaking.

Something very curious has happened to dogmatic Christianity in the West: through a strange concatenation of circumstances it has come to pass that a Buddha-like form has appeared by chance among Christian saints.

You will recall how once I spoke of a legend told all over Europe in the Middle Ages, the legend of Balaam and Josaphat. It was somewhat as follows: There was once an Indian king on Earth. He had a son. This son was brought up at first far removed from all human misery, from all external life. He lived in the king's palace, where he saw only what conduced to human happiness. He was called Josaphat; the name has been much changed and has assumed various forms — Josaphat, Judasaph, Budasaph. Josaphat lived up to a certain age in the palace without learning anything of the world. Then one day it happened that he left his father's palace and learnt something of life. He first saw a leper, then a blind man, then an aged man. We are then told that he met a Christian hermit called Balaam. By him he was converted to Christianity.

You will not fail to notice that this legend has a strong resemblance to the legend of Buddha. But you will also notice that something is added to this legend of the Middle Ages with which Buddha cannot be charged; namely, that he allowed himself to be converted to Christianity. This legend gave rise to a certain consciousness among Christians — among some of them, at least — who had made calendars of the saints.

People knew that the name Josaphat or Budasaph is connected with the name “Bodhisattva.” "Budasaph" passes directly over into "Bodhisattva." So that there is here an extraordinary and deep connection between a Christian legend and the figure of Buddha. The Oriental legend, as we know, represents Buddha as entering Nirvana and passing on the Bodhisattva crown to his successor, the Maytreya Buddha, who is now a Bodhisattva, and will later become the future Buddha of the world. Buddha appears again in the legend as Josaphat. The connection between Buddhism and Christianity is described marvelously by someone who said: Josaphat is a saint, and Buddha was himself so holy that according to the legend he was converted to Christianity from being the son of an Indian king; so he can be ranked among the saints, although from one side he was regarded as a heathen.

You can see from this that it was known where the later form of Buddhism, or rather of Buddha, has to be sought. Buddhism and Christianity have meanwhile flowed one into the other in the hidden worlds. And Balaam is that strange figure who made the Bodhisattva acquainted with Christianity, so that when now we trace the course of Buddhism as an enduring world-movement in the sense of this legend, we can only see it in the changed form in which it exists at the present time. We are obliged to speak of Buddha as he exists for us today, when clairvoyantly we understand what he reveals to us.

Just as Arabism was not Judaism, and the Moon of Jehova did not reappear in Arabism in its old form, so neither does Buddhism reappear in its old form when it returns to enrich the culture of the West, but changed. For a later never appears as an exact replica of an earlier.

These short, detached remarks are intended to act as a stimulus to thoughts on human evolution, which you can develop further for yourselves. And I assure you if you accept all the historical knowledge that it is possible to discover, and are really able to follow the spiritually scientific development of Europe, you will see that we are standing at present at the point where Christianity and Buddhism flow one into the other.

Just as at the time of which I have been speaking a union of the Jahve religion with Christianity occurred, so today a union of Buddhism with Christianity is taking place. Test this by accepting all that the historians of Europe are able to give you! Test it, but not as they are wont to do: take all the factors into consideration; you will then find confirmation of what I have said. Only we should have to speak for weeks if we were to give out all that reaches us from the direction of European Rosicrucianism.

But it is not only in history that proof can be found: if you go to work in the right way you can find it also in natural science and in allied realms. You have only to look in the right way to find that new ideas appear everywhere sporadically at the present day, and that old ideas become useless and disappear. Our thinkers and investigators seem to work with ideas that have become ineffectual, because in the widest sense they are incapable as yet of accepting and making use of other lines of thought, such as those of reincarnation and karma, and all that theosophy has to give. You can search the modern literature of the various departments of science: there you will find what is so painful for those who know how fact after fact appears in scientific life, and nowhere are ideas capable of grasping them. There is one such idea that plays an important part in science today: the idea of heredity. (These things can only be hinted at here.) The idea of heredity as it is put forward in various departments of science and even in popular literatures today is simply untenable.

People must learn facts for the understanding of which other kinds of ideas are required — such, for instance, as those entirely useless ideas concerning “heredity” that are common today. Certain facts well-known today concerning heredity in man and in other creatures will only be understood when quite different ideas prevail. When heredity is spoken of today, people seem to think that any faculties that appear in the human being can be traced to his immediate forefathers. The idea of reincarnation and karma will first make it possible for clear ideas to emerge instead of the present confusion. It will be realized that a great part of what is found in human nature has nothing to do with what is called the mutual cooperation of the sexes — for a confused science still teaches that all that a human being is today comes from the union of the male and female elements at conception. It is not at all true that all the things appearing in a human being have to do with physical inheritance. These matters must be gone into more thoroughly. I only put them before you today as a stimulus to further thought.

When you consider the physical body of man you know that it has a long history behind it — it has passed through the Saturn epoch, the Sun epoch, and the Moon epoch — now it is passing through the Earth epoch. It was only during the Moon epoch that the influence of the astral body appeared. This did not exist previously, and the physical body has naturally been very much changed by it. Hence we do not see the physical body as it was under the forces of the Saturn and Sun epochs, but only as it has become under the influence of these forces added to those of the astral body and the ego.

Only the physical body can be inherited through cooperation of the sexes, for this depends on the influence of the astral on the physical body; everything appertaining to laws going back to the Saturn and Sun epochs has nothing whatever to do with this. One part of human nature is received directly from the cosmos, not from the opposite sex. This means that what we have in us does not spring altogether from the union of the sexes, for this is dependent on what comes from our astral bodies, but a large part of our human nature — that which comes from the mother, for example — is received directly from the macrocosm.

We have therefore to distinguish one part of our human nature as being the result of the intercourse of the sexes, and another part as received directly by the mother from the macrocosm. Clarity will only be reached in respect of this when we succeed in distinguishing the separate parts of human nature, concerning which there is the greatest confusion at the present day. The physical body is not something shut off within itself, but is formed from the combined activity of the ether body, astral body, and ego; again we distinguish the forces that have to be ascribed to the direct influence of the macrocosm, and others that have to be ascribed to the cooperation of the sexes.

But something is also received from the paternal nature that has nothing to do with physical inheritance. Just as certain organs and laws having nothing to do with physical inheritance are received directly from the macrocosm, and are implanted in the organism by means of the mother; other laws are received from the macrocosm through the instrumentality of the father's organism and follow a spiritual path. It can be said of that which is received by way of the mother: her organism provides the moment of contact. But this that is active in the organism of the mother has not its source in any cooperation of the sexes, but it cooperates with what comes from the father, and this also does not spring from any union of the sexes, but from the paternal element. It is therefore a world event, a macrocosmic event, that takes place, and finds expression in a physical way. People are entirely mistaken when they describe the development of the human embryo as being only the outcome of heredity. It is the result of what is received directly from the macrocosm.

I have spoken here of facts that far transcend the ideas of science; they are ideas originating from very ancient epochs. Does anything show us this? Popular literature tells us very little about it, but it is clearly evident on the plane of occult endeavor. I should like here to tell you something. I can indeed only hint at it, but would like to point out what a remarkable difference there is between two natural scientists and thinkers of the present day who had, however, been brought up in different circles and with widely different ideas. The characters of the two men are clearely revealed in what follows.

We have in the first place Haeckel, who because he elaborated his marvelous facts with most primitive ideas, led everything back to heredity and presented the whole embryonic evolution as dependent on heredity; opposed to him is the investigator His, who held more to facts, concerning whom it was objected, with a certain amount of truth, that he thought too little. His was a zoologist and naturalist. Because of the special way he traced out facts, he was constrained to oppose the heredity theory of Haeckel, and pointed out that certain organs and organic formations in man can only be explained when we turn away from the idea that we have to thank the cooperation of the sexes for our origin, Haeckel makes fun of this and writes: “Therefore Herr His ascribes the origin of the human body to a certain ‘virginal’ influence that does not depend on the cooperation of the sexes!”

This is absolutely correct. For scientific facts force us to acknowledge today that what is brought about through cooperation of the sexes has to be kept apart from that which comes directly from the macrocosm — which, naturally, for wide circles is an absurd idea.

From this it can be seen that even on scientific grounds we are driven toward new ideas. We are placed in the midst of an evolution that says: If the facts that have been imparted to you are to be rightly understood you must acquire a whole host of new ideas, for the ideas that have come down from olden times do not reach far enough.

From what I have said you will see that a neighboring stream must enter our culture — this is the “Mercury stream”; its presence is revealed through the fact that those who go through an occult development, such as has frequently been described by me, evolve toward the spiritual world, and by doing so experience many new facts. These facts stream toward them, they stream into their souls. We might compare the entrance of man into another world with the passing of a fish from the water into the air; the fish has first to be prepared for this by changing its air bladders into lungs. This resembles the transition from sense perception to spiritual perception, whereby a man's soul is made capable of employing certain forces in a different element. Many things are then revealed to him.

The air is full of thoughts today which make it necessary for us to grasp the new facts of science now appearing on the physical plane. As investigator of the supersensible, one participates in things pressing in from all sides. This could not have been before the entrance of the new stream of which I have spoken. When these facts are rightly understood it will be realized we are living in an extraordinarily important age, one in which it is quite impossible for us to continue to live unless some such change takes place in human thought and feeling as I have declared to be necessary.

Man must learn to live in a new element, just as the fish that is accustomed to live in water has to learn to live in a new element when compelled to live in air. We must learn to live with our thoughts within those facts which the physical plane produces. Anyone who rejects these thoughts is like a fish taken out of the water. Man must not remain in the water. If he did, his later life would be “airless” as regards spiritual ideas — he would gasp for air. Those people who desire to live within the monism of today resemble fish who have exchanged their watery abode for an airy one, but would like to retain their gills. Only human souls who have changed their faculties, whose thoughts have evolved to a new way of accepting facts, will grasp what the future has to bring.

So with full understanding we feel we are standing at the confluence of two worldwide streams of thought — the one should bring us a deeper comprehension of the Christ problem and of the Mystery of Golgotha; the other new conceptions and ideas concerning reality. They must of necessity flow one into the other in our day; and not cease to do so even though they encounter the worst of obstacles. For the periods in which such streams of thought meet are fraught with many checks and hindrances. In some respects it is the people who rely on spiritual science who find themselves in a position to understand such things.

Many of our members might perhaps say with reference to the teaching given here: What you tell us is difficult of comprehension; we have to work at it for a long time. Why can you not give us a more comfortable diet, that we might absorb more easily what is able to convince us of the spiritual nature of the world? Why do you lay such stress on understanding the world?” Many might say this and add: “How much more beautiful it would be if we might believe in a Buddhism that has come down to us from the past; if we did not have to think of the Christ event as the single point on which the balance rests, that no other is to be compared with it, but might think that a being like the Christ would incarnate again and again as other men do. Why do you not say: Here or there such a one will appear in the flesh! Instead you say men must make themselves capable of experiencing a renewal of the event of Damascus. If only you would say: ‘One will come in the flesh,’ then we could say: ‘Behold, He is here!’ We could then see Him with our physical eyes! This would be much easier to understand!”

That such things have been said is the concern of others. The task of Western spiritual science is to make the truth known; to declare the truth with full responsibility and understanding of what lies within the evolution that has brought us thus far.

Those who desire to be comfortable in the spiritual world must seek spirituality along some other path. But those who desire the truth, such truth as is required in our day — which has need of all the intelligence won in the time of old clairvoyance and preserved until the dawn of the new clairvoyance — will, I am very sure, follow the path indicated in the words spoken today and on many other occasions.

What is most important is not that we should say in what form we desire truth, but that we should know from the whole course of human evolution that the truth must necessarily be spoken at a certain point of time. Oh, there are many other things that must be said! But for these things you shall not go unprepared.

Therefore again and again within our Rosicrucian spiritual movement things will be said which stand at the very summit of the spiritual knowledge of our day. You need never accept what is said here or elsewhere with blind belief: blind belief is never appealed to here. In your intelligence, in the employment of your own understanding, you have the means for testing what is said. You may frequently hear it said: Take the whole of life, all science, everything you are able to experience, and test them by what is given out within the stream of Rosicrucian spiritual life. Do not fail to examine everything — you will find it stands the test! You who live within our movement know this, but you must not fail to apply the test. For it is precisely where opposition stirs — when on the ground of true spirituality, perhaps, the direct opposite appears — that belief alone does not suffice. Everything that rests on blind belief is sterile and stillborn. It may be easy to build on blind faith, but those who belong to the spiritual life of the West renounce it. They build on that which the human intellect can scrutinize. Those who are in touch with the sources from which our Rosicrucian spiritual teaching comes say of it: After scientific examination, this is how things are found to be! The edifice of spiritual science is raised on a foundation of truth! This is a foundation of no easy belief! Our edifice is raised on the foundation of a carefully tested, if perhaps difficult, truth, and the prophets of a blind and comfortable faith are in no way able to shake the foundations on which the edifice of spiritual science is raised!

1. Buddha,” a public lecture given in Berlin on the 7th of May, 1911, See “Paths of Experience.”


Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Archangel Michael: The Fiery Prince of Thought

Rudolf Steiner, "At the Dawn of the Michael Age":

"One who understands how to observe such things knows what a great change took place in the last third of the nineteenth century with respect to the life of human thought. Before that time human beings could feel only how thoughts formed themselves in their own being; from the time indicated humans are able to raise themselves above their own being; we can turn our mind to the Spiritual; we there meet Michael, who proves his ancient kinship with everything connected with thought. He liberates thought from the sphere of the head; he clears the way for it to the heart; he enkindles enthusiasm in the feelings, so that the human mind can be filled with devotion for all that can be experienced in the light of thought.

The Age of Michael has dawned. Hearts are beginning to have thoughts; spiritual fervor is now proceeding not merely from mystical obscurity but from souls clarified by thought. To understand this means to receive Michael into the heart. Thoughts which at the present time strive to grasp the Spiritual must originate in hearts which beat for Michael as the fiery Prince of Thought in the Universe."

The redemption of the animal kingdom

Rudolf Steiner, June 15, 1921:

"We come to the tragic thought that animals are there because of human beings; they must suffer with us, even though they cannot commit error. Enter into this concept with your feeling. Feel this reality, that the animal world suffers evil, even though it cannot do evil....We can do nothing in this present existence to redeem the animals that suffer because of us. We can redeem them only when we look forward to the end-condition of the Earth--a condition in which natural laws do not hinder us from intervening in the redemption of the animal world and from removing the suffering from it. Thus, we must move forward to grasp an end-condition of the Earth about which physics has no right to speak."

Source: First Steps in Christian Religious Renewal, p. 127

Christ's Calendar

Laws of Rhythm in the Domain of Soul and Spirit. Rhythms of Seven. Mark: the Gospel of the Consciousness Soul.

Background to the Gospel of Mark. Lecture 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 7, 1911:
When, aided by spiritual science, we give ourselves up to the study of the Gospels, we are at once aware of powerful experiences coming to us from them. And we venture to say that people will first gain some idea of all that has been poured into the Gospels by those who wrote them when spiritual science has been popularized somewhat as is the fashion today. Many things will then be recognized as belonging to the Gospels that are not found directly in these documents, but are only discovered when the four Gospels are studied side by side.

I should like, in the first place, to say that in the Gospel of Matthew the true history of the Christ Impulse is put before us in the story of a child. Beginning with an account of the ancient Hebrew people — or rather of their first ancestor — the account of the Christ Impulse in this Gospel only goes back to the origin of the Hebrew people. In this Gospel we learn to know the bearer of the Christ being as he developed out of the Hebrew people. When we pass on to the Gospel of Mark we meet with the Christ Impulse directly. Here all mention of the life of the child is at first disregarded. After being told that John the Baptist is the great prophet who foretold the coming of the Christ Impulse, it describes the baptism by John in the Jordan.

Then from the Gospel of Luke we receive a new history of the childhood of the bearer of the Christ Impulse, but this time it goes much further back as regards the origin of Jesus of Nazareth — it goes back to the beginning of mankind upon the Earth. The descent of Jesus of Nazareth is traced back to Adam, and then to one who it states “was God.” Therefore, this story of his childhood clearly indicates that the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth can be traced back to a point of time when man first came forth from divine beings. The Gospel of Luke takes us back to a time when man can no longer be regarded as a being incarnated in the flesh, but as a spiritual being, a being that had come forth from the womb of divine spirituality.

In the Gospel of John the great facts are put before us so that again without giving any account of the childhood or the destiny of Jesus of Nazareth we are introduced directly, and in a very profound sense, to the very being of Christ. In the course of the spiritual development we have ourselves passed through in recent years we sketched out a certain path as regards the study of the Gospels; our design was to begin first with the Gospel that gives us the most exalted outlook into the abstract spirituality of Christ: the Gospel according to John.

This was to be followed by the study of the Gospel of Luke, in order to show how the highest degree of spirituality possible in man becomes apparent when the life of this man, Jesus of Nazareth, is traced back to the point of time when as earthly man he came forth from the Godhead.

The study of the Gospel of Matthew was to follow, so that we might understand the Christ Impulse as this passed through the ancient Hebrew people.

The Gospel of Mark we reserved to the last. Why this was done will be rightly understood when much that has been touched on recently as general spiritual science is connected with things you have known for long, and also with others that are comparatively new. This is why I have spoken recently of many things in human life, and of the composition of the members of man's being, and shall speak of similar things today, which may serve as an introduction to certain facts of human evolution. For it becomes ever more necessary that the conditions of human evolution should be recognized — and not only recognized, but kept constantly before us.

As we advance toward the future, mankind will become ever more self-dependent, ever more individual. Belief in external authority will be replaced more and more by the authority of the individual soul. This is the necessary course of evolution — but in order that it may bring well-being and blessedness, man has to know his own nature. We cannot say that as a whole we are far advanced in the estimation and understanding of human nature. For what, among much else, is taking place in the history of man today? All kinds of programs, all kinds of so-called ideals for mankind, are certainly not wanting at the present time. One can almost say that not only a man here and there, but every man might come forward today as a little messiah with a special ideal for our humanity; might construct out of his head and heart an ideal by which well-being and blessedness might be attained. Nor are societies and associations wanting that suggest one thing or another which they think necessary to introduce into our culture. These we have in great measure, and faith in them is not wanting. The strength of conviction in those who put forward such programs is so great that it will shortly be necessary to form councils to establish the infallibility of each. In speaking of such things we mention what is deeply characteristic of our age.

Spiritual science does not keep us from thinking of our future, but points to certain fundamental tendencies and laws which cannot be disregarded if anything is to be gained from its impulse.

For what does the man of today believe? He takes counsel with himself; an ideal rises in his soul, and he believes he is capable of making his ideal actual. He does not pause to think that perhaps the time is not ripe for its introduction, that the picture he has formed may perhaps be a caricature, and that it may possibly only reach fruition in a more or less distant future. In short it is very difficult for people today to understand that every event must be prepared for, that owing to the general macrocosmic relationships of the world these are ordained to take place at fixed times. It is exceedingly difficult for present-day humanity to grasp this. All the same it is a universal law, and holds for each individual as well as for the whole human race.

We can recognize the working of this law as regards individuals, when we observe their lives by means of spiritual science. Here we have to consider the smallest, most intimate things that rise within the soul.

I am not now dealing with general ideas, but will keep rather to what has been observed in particular cases. In the first place let us suppose that we have someone before us who has been able to grasp some idea in his soul most intensely; that he has been so fired by it that it assumed a distinct form in his soul and he desires earnestly to make this idea actual. Let us suppose then that this idea first arose in his head, and was then filled with impulses of feeling from his heart. Such a man would not be able today to wait, he would set about at once giving reality to his idea.

Suppose that at first this was quite a small idea concerned with some scientific or artistic fact. Will an occultist who knows the laws put such an entirely strange idea at once before the world? We are assuming that the idea is quite a small one. The occultist knows that it appears first in the life of the astral body. This can be observed even outwardly through the fact that enthusiasm dwells in the soul. It is pre-eminently a force of the astral body.

It is as a rule harmful when people do not allow the idea at this stage to rest quietly and not set it at once before the world; for the idea has first to follow a clearly defined course. For instance, it must enter ever deeper and deeper into the astral body and then impress itself, as a seal does, on the etheric body. If the idea is a small one this process may take seven days. But this time is necessary. And if the man goes ahead hurriedly with his idea, he is apt to overlook one important fact, namely, that after seven days a quite clearly defined experience of a very subtle kind takes place. If these things are noticed he may have this experience, but if he goes madly ahead saying: — “Out with it into the world!” the result is that his soul is not disposed to listen for what may happen on the seventh day. With a small idea it always happens on the seventh day that the person does not rightly know how to carry it out, that it vanishes again within the soul. The man is restless, perhaps even frightened, oppressed with doubts, yet all the time in spite of feeling perturbed he is attached to his idea.

Enthusiasm now changes to an intimate feeling of love. The idea is now within the etheric body. If it is to prosper and thrive it must lay hold of the outer astral substances with which we are always surrounded; thus from our astral body it must first pass into our etheric body and thence into the external astrality. To accomplish this another seven days is necessary. And if the man is not such a tyro that when the idea begins to trouble him, he says: — “Away with you!” but if he pays heed to the way life progresses he can see that after this period something comes to meet his idea from outside which can be expressed somewhat as follows: — “It is well to have waited fourteen days, for now I am no longer alone with my idea. It is as if I had been inspired from the macrocosm, as if something had entered my ideas from the outer world.”

A man then feels for the first time that he is in harmony with the whole spiritual world, that it brings something to meet him, when he has something to give to it. A certain soul-satisfying feeling arises after a period of about twice seven days.

This idea has then to follow the path backwards: it has to enter the etheric body again by way of the external astrality. We are then aware of it quite objectively, and the temptation is very great to give it to the world. This must again be resisted with all our power; for there is a danger, while the idea is still in the etheric body, of its entering the world in a cold way, of being communicated to the world in a cold and icy way. But if you wait for a further period of seven days the coldness leaves it and it is filled again with the warmth of the individual astral body; it takes on the character of the personality. Thus what we gave birth to in the first place, and then allowed to be baptised by the Gods, we are now able to hand over to the world as our own. Every impulse we feel in our souls must pass through these three stages before it becomes ripe within us. This holds as regards small ideas.

For more important ideas longer periods of time are necessary, but these always pass in a rhythm of seven and seven. In this way not weeks but months are built up, and then again years in the same rhythm. We can have a rhythm of seven to seven weeks, and of seven to seven years.

From this you can see that the important thing is not so much what the man of today thinks, or what impulses are in his soul, but that he has the power to bear these impulses with patience to allow them to be baptised by World Spirits, and then emerge when they are ripe. Other laws of a similar kind might be added to this, for what is called the “development of the soul” is full of such ordered arrangements.

When, for instance, on a certain day — and such days are very rare in men's lives — you have the feeling: “Today I feel as if blessed by the World Spirit: ideas arise in me!” it is well to receive these quietly, to know that after nineteen days a process of fructification such as I have described will take place in the soul. The evolution of the human soul is full of such ordered arrangements. Now, man has an instinctive feeling not to overvalue these things, and for this we should be very thankful, not to allow himself to be too much uplifted by them. He takes note of them — especially those men whose aim it is to develop and ripen their higher natures take note of them — without really knowing the law. Thus it is often noticed that artistic natures reveal certain periods in their creative activities, that there is a rhythm in them according to days, weeks, and years. This is easily seen in artists of the first rank — in Goethe, for instance. We note how something rises in Goethe's soul, and that only after four times seven years is it really ripe, and then it emerges in another form from that in which it first appeared.

People might easily remark here in accordance with the inclination of today: “Yes, my dear spiritual investigator, such laws there may be, but why should people trouble so much about them? They note them instinctively!”

Such a remark has reference to a time that is past. Because people are becoming more self-reliant, because they harken more and more to their own individuality, they must try to develop within them an inner calendar. Just as an outer calendar is of importance in external affairs, so in the future, when the intensity of man's soul has increased, he will feel “inner weeks”: he will feel an inward ebb and flow in his life of feeling and experience; inner Sundays. Men will progress in accordance with this inwardness. Many things felt by man formerly in the partitioning of his life according to number will be experienced at a later day inwardly; this will be the dawn of what is macrocosmic in the souls of men. It will then be for him a self-understood duty not to bring tumult or disorder into human evolution by overstepping the sacred laws of the soul's development. He will come to understand that it is but a refined form of egoism to desire to communicate immediately what is taking place in the soul.

Men will come of themselves to experience the spirit within them, and this not abstractly as is done today, but they will perceive how this spirit works regularly and according to law in their souls. When something happens to them, and they wish to communicate this to others, they will not let this loose headlong on humanity like a mad bull, but will listen to what the spirit-filled nature within them has to say.

What importance will it have for men when they learn to value more and more and to harken more and more to what emerges in this way as law out of the inner spirituality of the world, and when they allow themselves to be inspired by it? Men in general have little feeling for such things. They do not believe that spiritual beings enter into our inner being and work there according to law. They will for long regard it as foolishness, even where culture is well advanced, when the ordered activity of the spirit is spoken of. And those who from spiritual scientific knowledge believe in the Spirit will experience through the deep antipathy of the times that are approaching what is said concerning our day in the Gospel of Mark:
“But when they shall lead you [away], and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” — Mark 13:11.
We must endeavor to understand a sentence like this, which has such special reference to our day, because of the value it acquires through its connection with this Gospel — not with the other Gospels.

As regards the Gospel of Mark you see that in a general way it contains what is also to be found in the other Gospels. But one passage found in this Gospel is remarkable just because it is not found in the other Gospels. This passage is especially remarkable because commentators have said some really very silly things about it. It is where Christ Jesus came out from preaching to the people, and where, after he had chosen his disciples, we are told: —
“And they went into an house. And the multitude cometh together again so that they had not room so much as to eat bread. And when His friends heard of it they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said: He is out of His senses, He is beside Himself.” — Mark 3:19-21.
This passage is not found in the same way in the other Gospels. When we realize that the future course of human evolution will be such that the saying of St. Paul: — “Not I, but Christ in me!” will become ever more and more true, that that human ego alone is fruitful which receives into it the Impulse of Christ, we ought to feel that this passage refers in a most outstanding way to our own day. The fate experienced through the events of Palestine by Jesus Christ, as a representative, will be lived through by the whole of humanity in the course of time. In the near future men will divine more and more that wherever Christ is taught from an inward understanding of spiritual science, great antipathy will be manifested by those who turn from this teaching instinctively. It will not be at all difficult to see that those things will come to pass in the future which are described in prophetic images as the events of Christ in the Gospel according to Mark.

The outward behavior of many people, as well as much that is produced as art, and especially what is widely circulated today under the guise of science, will clearly show that those who speak of the Spirit in the sense in which Christ spoke of it will say in the near future: — “There are many among them who appear to be out of their senses, ‘beside themselves’!

It has to be stated again and again that the most important facts of spiritual life, as put forward by spiritual science, will be regarded in the future as fanciful tales by the greater part of humanity.

From the Gospel of Mark we should be able to evolve the necessary strength to stand firm against all the opposition that will be stirred up against the truths to be discovered in the domain of the Spirit.

If one has a feeling for the finer differences of style found in this Gospel from those found in the other Gospels, one notices spiritual scientific differences here also; we find in it things not found in the other Gospels. One notices in the construction of its sentences, in the exclusion of many sentences found in the other Gospels, that many things which might be accepted quite abstractly take on a special shade of meaning. When one has a feeling for this, one notices also that in the Gospel of Mark we are given an incisive, a most pregnant, teaching concerning the ego. One sentence only need be noted for this to be made clear, one sentence the special feature of which consists in certain things being omitted that are found in the other Gospels. If one has such perception, one realizes the deep significance of the following passage: —
And Jesus went out, and His disciples, into the towns of Cesarea, Philippi, and by the way He asked His disciples, saying unto them, “Who do men say the ‘I’ Is? What do people recognize as the I?” And those who were round about Jesus answered and said: “The people say that in the true ‘I’ must live John the Baptist.” But others say this ‘I’ must be filled with Elias, that Elias must live in the ‘I’; others again say, another of the Prophets must be so worked on that the “I” says: “Not I — but the Prophet works in me.” But He said to those who were with Him, “What do you say that the ‘I’ is?” Then Peter answered: “We understand the ‘I’ so that we grasp it in its spirituality as Thee, that is as the Christ.” And He charged them that they should not tell ordinary men of this! For this mystery they could not understand.
But to those who had been moved by His words He began to give the following teaching: “That which is the outward physical expression of the ego-nature in man must suffer many things if it is to attain full development; and so it came to pass that the most ancient masters of mankind and those who knew the content of the holiest wisdom could say: The form in which the ego dwells at present serves it no longer; in this form it shall be slain, and after three days, in accordance with the ordered rhythm of universal connections, it will rise again in a higher form.”
And they were all amazed that He should speak these words openly before all men.
Here I must remark that up to that time such words could only have been spoken in the Mysteries. It was a secret that until then was only mentioned in the temple of the Mysteries — the secret that men had to undergo “death and birth” [Stirb und Werde] in the course of initiation and after three days had to rise again. Hence we are told: —
Peter was amazed, took the Christ aside and pointed out that such things should not be spoken of openly. Then the Christ turned Himself about and said: “In speaking thus Peter, thou givest thyself over to Satan; for stating this truth as thou dost is not for our time, but belongs to the past.” These things were in those days confined within the temple. In the future, in view of the superlative Mystery of Golgotha they will gradually become the possession of all men. Thus it is ordained in the divine guidance of earthly evolution. Those who say otherwise do not speak in accordance with the divine wisdom men had in the past, but gave a temporal form to the wisdom of the gods.
It is somewhat in this way we have to understand this passage that meets us in all the grandeur of its clear-cut phrases in the Gospel of St. Mark. We have to realize that the Impulse of Christ according to the Gospel of Mark consists in our receiving the Christ into our ego, so that the saying of Paul: “Not I, but Christ in me,” may become ever more actual; and not the abstract Christ only, but He who sent the Holy Spirit, the concrete Spirit, who in an ordered and regular manner (as we have described today) works inspiringly with his inward calendar in the souls of men.

In pre-Christian times people only attained knowledge through being initiated into the Mysteries, when for three and a half days they remained in a death-like state after having endured the tragic suffering of one who, while living on the physical plane, tries to raise himself to spiritual heights. There they learnt that this earthly man must be slain, that a higher man must rise again in him — that is, he must experience “death and birth.” What formerly had only been experienced in the Mysteries now became a historical fact through the Mystery of Golgotha. If they felt united with this Mystery it provided the possibility by which all men could become pupils of this greater wisdom.

Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha was therefore the most important understanding. It was only possible for earthly man to acquire an understanding of what was to enter more and more into the human ego after the coming of the Christ-Impulse.

We can now receive inspiration in a certain way from the Gospels. For the time in which the Christ Event took place, the Gospel of Matthew was a good “book of initiation”; for our day this holds good more especially with regard to the Gospel according to Mark.

You all know that this is the age in which the consciousness-soul is to be especially developed, in which it is to be separated in isolation from its milieu. You know that we are now summoned to direct our attention not so much to the fact that we belong to any special race, but to what is to be born in us, and is described in the words of St. Paul: — “Not I but Christ in me!”

Our fifth post-Atlantean period is that specially inspired by the Gospel according to Mark. The task of the sixth post-Atlantean period, on the other hand, will be gradually to fill the whole of humanity with the spirit of Christ. Thus while in the fifth period of civilization the being of Christ will be an object of study, of deep inward penetration, in the sixth men will receive His nature into their whole being. Added to this, what we have learnt to recognize as the inner nature of the Gospel of Luke is of great value, for it is the one which reveals fully the origin of Jesus of Nazareth, as does also the Gospel of Matthew, which leads us back to Zarathustra, just as the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke leads us back to Buddha and Buddhism. For in our studies of the Gospel of Luke we realize that Jesus of Nazareth is presented to us throughout the course of his long evolution in such a way that we are led back to the divine spiritual origin of mankind. Through this man will be able to realize more and more his own divine nature, and because of this must fill himself with the Christ Impulse. This stands before us as a wondrous ideal, but it will only become concrete when, through the Gospel of Luke, we rise to a true understanding of the physical man of the sense world as a divine being with a spiritual origin.

And for the seventh post-Atlantean period of civilization, and on until the next great catastrophe, the Gospel of John will be the book of inspiration, as for the man of today it is a guide for his spiritual life. In that period many things will be of service to man which he has learnt in the course of the sixth epoch. But much of what is believed today will have to be unlearnt — fundamentally unlearnt. This will not be difficult, for scientific facts indicate that we will have to overcome many things. Thus many things are so regarded today that they are called “of the senses,” things which inform us concerning such self-understood wisdom, as that the terms “motor” and “sensory nerves” are pure nonsense. There are no “motor nerves.” There are only nerves of perception. Nerves that control movements are also nerves of perception, only their purpose is to bring to our perception the corresponding movement of the muscles. It will not be so very long before people realize that movement is not conveyed to the muscle by means of the nerves, but by the astral body, and indeed by that within our astral body which in the immediate future will not be directly perceived to be what it is. For there is a law which lays down that what is active, operative, is not recognized immediately for what it is. What calls forth movement in the muscles is connected with the astral body, and indeed in such a way that in the astral body itself, by the movement of the muscles, a kind of resonance or tone is developed.

Something of the nature of music permeates our astral body, and finds expression through the movement of the muscles. It is really the same as in the case of the well-known Chladnic tone-forms, when a fine powder scattered on a metal plate can be set in motion if this is stroked by a violin bow; certain figures then appear in the powder. Our astral body is filled with nothing but such forms which are at the same time tone-forms, and their united activity is what causes our astral body to assume its special aspect. All this is imprinted in the astral body. People can convince themselves of this in a quite trivial way. If the biceps or the muscles of the forearm are tightly braced and then laid against the ear, this tone can be heard; but the exercises must be done in the right way, the muscles must be stretched and the thumb laid on them. This is no real “proof,” but only a means by which what is here mentioned can be illustrated in a trivial manner. We are permeated by music and reveal it in the movement of our muscles, and we are endowed with “motor-nerves,” as they are wrongly called, so that we may know something concerning the movements of our muscles.

This is but one form of those truths that will convince people more and more that man is really a spiritual being; that he is really interwoven with the harmony of the spheres — even to his muscles. And spiritual science, whose task it is to prepare the sixth epoch in respect of the spiritual understanding of the world, will concern itself in every particular with such truths as deal with man as well as with spiritual beings. Exactly as tone in one connection rises to a higher sphere when from musical sound it becomes the spoken human word, so it is in cosmic relationships. The sphere harmonies become something higher when they become the cosmic word or Logos; and this they are when all that is active as sphere harmonies becomes Logos.

Now, in the physical organization of man the next thing higher than the muscles is the blood. In the same way as a muscle is attuned to the sphere harmonies, the blood is attuned to the Logos, and can become ever more and more an expression of the Logos — as it has been, unconsciously, since the beginning of man.

This means there is a tendency on the physical plane for the blood of man, which is the expression of his ego, to become the conscious expression of the Logos. And when in the sixth period of civilization men have learnt to recognize themselves as spiritual beings, they will no longer hold to the fantastic idea that muscles are moved through motory nerves, but will know that they are moved by sphere harmonies which have become personal.

Then in the seventh period of civilization men will feel that even to their blood they are permeated by the Logos — they will then feel for the first time the real content of the Gospel of John. The science of this Gospel will be first understood in the seventh period, and people will come to feel that every book of physiology should begin with the opening words of the Gospel of John. What our attitude to it should be is well expressed in the following words:

“Much of this Gospel we can understand now, but for long there will be much more that we cannot understand!” It stands before us as a high ideal.

From all I have said today you will gather that the Gospel of Matthew has to be regarded as especially inspiring for the fourth period of post-Atlantean civilization, and for our own day the Gospel of Mark must be considered especially inspiring. For the next period, the sixth, the Gospel of Luke is important, and we must prepare ourselves for it, because the seed of everything that is to come to pass in the future must have existed already in the past. And everything that is to come to pass in the further course of human evolution, everything that is to develop in the seventh period up to the time of the next catastrophe, comes fully to light in the Gospel of John if we can but understand it. It is therefore specially important that we should understand the Gospel of Mark as a book that can give us guidance in much that we have to practise, and much we have to guard against — especially those short sentences which in their pregnant style impart to us the meaning of the Christ Impulse for the human ego. It is very important we should realize that our task is to grasp the Spirit of Christ; and that we should realize how He will reveal Himself in the different periods of the future.

We have attempted to present this as regards our day in the words of the Rosicrucian Mystery Play “The Portal of Initiation” as put into the mouth of the seeress Theodora. In the scene referred to we have something like a repetition of the Event of Paul on the way to Damascus. It is but a sign of the materialism of our day when people think that the Christ Impulse could reveal itself again within a physical human form. That we have to guard against such a belief we learn from the Gospel of Mark, which holds a special warning for our day. If much that is found in this Gospel has reference to what is past, yet one sentence, in the higher moral sense just mentioned, has meaning for the near future. When considering spiritual realms, the eye of the spirit can see that the influence proceeding from spiritual science is a necessity. When the deep spiritual meaning of the following passage is understood we shall connect it with our age and with the one shortly to follow:
“For in those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, neither shall be.”
We have to direct men's attention to these words. All kinds of afflictions await those in the future who desire to give expression to spiritual truth in its true form: — “And except that the Lord had shortened those days nothing of spiritual nourishment would have been left, but for the elect's sake He has shortened those days!”

And then we are told:
“If in that time anyone shall say to you, ‘Lo, here is Christ, or Lo, He is there, believe Him not.’ ”
The Gospel here refers to an eventual materialistic acceptance of Christ.
“For false Christs and false Prophets shall rise and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold I have foretold you all things!” — Mark 13:19-23.

The attacks of materialism will be so strong that it will be necessary for men to acquire sufficient strength of soul really to endure what is expressed by the words: “False Christs and false Prophets will appear.” And when they are told: “Lo, here is the Christ!” those who have come under the influence of spiritual science will be able to accept the warning given in the Gospel of Mark.

When men say to you “Lo, here is the Christ,” believe it not!



Friday, June 28, 2013

Advaita Vedanta: "That they all may be one"

John 17:20-26

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

"Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

The Origin and Purpose of Evil; Christ the Redeemer; Human Beings as the Spirits of Freedom and Love

The Spiritual Hierarchies and the Physical World. Lecture 10 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Düsseldorf, April 18, 1909:
Apart from the question put at the end of yesterday's lecture, it would be within the scope of this course of lectures to explain much more; but it is impossible to exhaust in ten lectures all there is to be said about our worlds. Therefore I beg you to allow me to make yet a few observations before I touch on our question, especially as these observations are connected with it.
The first observation I have to make is difficult, perhaps even almost impossible of comprehension by the consciousness of the present day; but it is good to know that something of the sort exists. It is the question: In what way do these planetary formations really disappear again? It is clear to you how development spiritually proceeds: beings arise to higher stages, and while they are rising they have to forsake the old place of habitation which afforded them for a time the possibility for developing certain capacities which they otherwise could not have achieved. When in the course of evolution that time approached which we call the Lemurian, man had reached so far in his general development that he had already repeated all that there was to be gained out of the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions. He now appeared on the dwelling-place destined for our  Earth evolution, which had only just been formed. He developed through the Lemurian and Atlantean times on into our times, and he will continue to develop on into the future, as we know — from one incarnation to the other. But after a certain time that human being will have to leave the Earth, to forsake it, because it will not have anything more to give him, and will afford him no more possibilities of development. Now, you might perhaps imagine that our Earth would become a sort of deserted rubbish-heap when man had left it; you might compare it to a town which had been deserted by its entire population. You know what such a town looks like after a short time; it gradually turns into a mound of earth. We get an adequate idea of this in seeing towns which have been given over to nature. But it will not be so in the future of the Earth. The following consideration will give you an idea of what that future will be like: what does such a genius, for instance, as Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael, signify for the earthly development of men? What importance for the Earth's development have those wonderful works of Michelangelo or Raphael, which are still today enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people? Perhaps some of you have felt a certain sadness looking at the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci, when you have asked yourselves, standing in front of that wonderful work in Milan: How long it would still last? For one must not forget that Goethe, in his first journey to Italy, still saw that work of art in all its beauty and freshness, as we cannot see it any more. But, from the time of Goethe's youth to our time, this work of art has so far perished as regards the external, material world that it calls forth in us feelings of sadness. For people who will live as late after us as we are now after Goethe, that picture will not exist any more. So it is with everything men create upon Earth, with everything which is incarnated into physical matter upon Earth. In reality it is so also with the Earth itself, and with the creations of human thought. Put yourselves now in thought into that time when the spiritualized men will have risen into higher spheres. Thoughts in the sense of today — I do not mean scientific thoughts, for these will entirely lose their importance in three or four hundred years — but thoughts of men in general, as they come forth from a human mind, have naturally no importance for the higher worlds, but have it only for the Earth. But when man shall have left the Earth, what will have happened to all his past creations on Earth, through all the hundreds and thousands of years that are past?
The evolution of the individual is naturally the thing to be first spiritually considered. Leonardo da Vinci has risen higher through what he has achieved; that is his ascent. But we ask ourselves whether the great thoughts, the great impulses, which great men have imprinted on the substance of the Earth, do not have any importance for the future of the Earth? Will the future break and grind the Earth into dust, and will all that man has made out of the Earth disappear together with its existence? You admire the Cathedral of Cologne. In a comparatively short time there will certainly not be one stone of it lying on the other; but the fact that man once expressed his thoughts in stone in this cathedral, will that have no significance for the whole Earth? We are now disregarding that which man takes with him away from the Earth, we are considering the Earth itself. We see that, in fact, a planet grows always smaller in the course of its development. It contracts. That is the destiny of the substance of planets; but it is not all, that is only something which the physical eye and physical instruments can observe in the planets. There is a further development of the material substance — beyond that point.
Let us now consider this further development of matter, and with this I am touching on what I said will perhaps be impossible for you to understand with the comprehension of the present day. It is a fact that the Earth is continually contracting; hence matter tends towards the center from all sides. And now I say — be it understood consciously, not only fully conscious of the law of the conservation of force, but also fully conscious of facts known to every occultist — I say: Matter draws together more and more towards a center — and the strange thing is that in that center matter disappears.
Imagine that you have a piece of something which contracts more and more toward its center. In its center it disappears. It does not get pushed over to its other side, it absolutely disappears into nothing in its own central point! So that you can imagine to yourselves that, as the material parts contract toward the center, the whole of the Earth will some day disappear in that central point. But this is not all: in the same measure in which it disappears in the central point, it reappears again in the circumference. Out there in space it is coming back again. At one point in space matter disappears, and emerges again at another. Out there it is coming forth anew. The substance disappears in one place and from outside it returns again. But it returns in such a way that it brings back with it all that the beings who have worked on the planets have imprinted on its substance — naturally not in its present form, but in a form which this transformation has given to it. In this way you see the Cathedral of Cologne returning from the other side, its material particles having disappeared in the center. Nothing, absolutely nothing, of that which has been accomplished on a planet is ever lost, it all comes back again from the other side.
That which happened in the beginnings of our evolution, before the Saturn development, we must place outside, beyond the Zodiac. Primeval wisdom called it the Crystal Heaven, and in that Crystal Heaven were deposed all the deeds of the beings of a former evolution. They formed, so to speak, the foundation on which the new  beings began to create.
As we said before, all this is extremely difficult for the modern mind to understand, because it is in the habit of considering matter only, and because it is not in the habit of conceiving that outside of three-dimensional space matter can disappear and reappear at another place after it has passed through other dimensions. You cannot grasp this so long as your ideas remain in the space of three dimensions, for this goes beyond the three dimensions. Therefore it cannot be seen until it returns again from the other side into the space of three dimensions. In the meantime, it is in other dimensions.
It is a thing which we have to grasp; for the conditions of our world's origin have manifold connections, and something which is to be found in some one place may often have a complicated connection with something else which is in quite a different place outside three-dimensional space.
We have said that our planetary formation began with ancient Saturn, and it really did begin then. It then advanced to Jupiter. When the whole creation of Jupiter began, all the beings in the surrounding space also took part in it, as you know. But just as all the beings who are active within the whole expanse of our planetary system are developing further, so also are the beings outside our system, those who are sending in their influence from surrounding spaces. As some of the surrounding beings withdrew, so did also some of the beings who were outside in universal spaces; some of these also withdrew; and as Jupiter contracted, something was also withdrawn by the beings who retired, something which had nothing to do with our evolution at all, but which along with the withdrawing beings formed first Uranus, and then Neptune during the Mars development. The names of Uranus and Neptune were, of course, not chosen to suit the subjects in the way the ancients chose names — although in the name Uranus some meaning still is left; it was given when people still had some feeling for the meaning of names; therefore, all that lies outside our circle was generically called Uranus.
Thus we see that the two planets which our astronomers of the present day consider as having the same significance as the other planets stand on a totally different footing, and fundamentally speaking have nothing to do with the creation of our world; they represent those worlds which have come into existence because beings who, during the Saturn period, still had something to do with us, have withdrawn and have found their places of habitation outside our world. We shall gather other facts from this, for instance, that those planets have retrograding moons, and so on.
Thus we have sketched the origin of our solar system and have asked ourselves: What position has man toward those beings of the higher hierarchies who, fundamentally speaking, were his human forefathers? We can begin with the highest — the Seraphim, the Cherubim, the Thrones — and in describing them, get a good idea of man. If we could rise beyond the Seraphim, we should get into the realm of the Divine Trinity. What is it then that the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones have in particular, that is different from all the other beings in the world? They have what is called ‘the direct sight of God.’ That which man has to seek for slowly and gradually, throughout his development, is theirs from the beginning of all time. We men say that we must start from our modern standpoint to acquire ever greater powers of knowledge, of will, etc.; thus we shall rise ever nearer and nearer to the Godhead; Divinity will become ever more present to us. We say to ourselves: We are developing upward, toward something which is still veiled from us, toward the Godhead. This is the difference between the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones and men: that since the beginning of our development these highest beings have enjoyed the direct sight of the Godhead, have been in the near presence of the Divine Trinity. That whereunto men have to evolve has been theirs from the very beginning.
Thus it is immensely important for us to know that these beings came into existence seeing God; that as they live, so also they are in the sight of God.
All they do, all they achieve, they do through the vision they have of God, God does it through them. They could not do otherwise, it would be impossible for them to act otherwise than they do; for the sight of God has such power, such an influence upon them, that with a direct certainty, with immediate impulse, they put into action all that they receive from the Godhead. Anything like deliberation, judgment, consideration does not exist in the sphere of those beings. For them, there only exists the sight of the commands of the Godhead, the reception of the immediate impulse to put into action that which they have seen. And they also behold the Godhead in its original true form; they see the Godhead as it is. But they only see themselves as those who fulfill the will and the wisdom of God. These are the conditions of the highest hierarchies.
When we descend to the next hierarchy, to those beings whom we call the Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form, we have to say that they have not such direct vision of the Godhead, they do not see God in His immediate aspect as He is, but in His revelations in the way He — if I may express it so — reveals Himself through His countenance. Certainly it is unmistakable for them that it is the Godhead; they feel the immediate impulse to follow the revelations of the Godhead, just as with the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones. The impulse is not so strong, but it still is a direct one. It would be impossible for the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones to say that they would not put into action that which they see prescribed for them, so to speak, by the Godhead; that would be unthinkable because of their nearness to the Godhead. But it would also be in a certain way quite impossible for those Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form to undertake that which the Godhead Itself did not want them to undertake.
Therefore, if development was to progress, something quite particular had to come into action. We now touch on a point which is always difficult for men to understand, even for those who have advanced to a certain degree of the Mystery-Wisdom. In the ancient Mysteries they tried to make it comprehensible in the following way: At a certain stage of initiation into the ancient Mysteries, the neophyte was led by hostile powers, who had a cruel and horrible appearance, and who also enacted cruel and horrible deeds in the sight of the neophyte. Those who performed these deeds were no other than masked priests, masked sages. To bring about the necessary temptations and ordeals, priests had to disguise themselves in devilish shapes, as terrible beings who performed the most terrific and the most abominable deeds which the mind of man could ever imagine. What did this mean? To show to the neophyte how far development could err from the right path, the priest himself, under the guise of the evil-doer, had to represent that evil before his eyes. He had to have the illusion that evil itself stood before him, and only when the evil was unmasked did he see the truth; then the illusion was taken away, and he knew he had had to do with a trial. To make him strong, to arm him against evil, it was represented to him in its most terrific aspect, represented by the wise priests themselves, who certainly did not err in truth. It was only a reflection of that which had really taken place within the cosmic development.
In the time between the Jupiter and the Mars development — if I dare express myself in trivial words — a number of beings from the sphere of the Mights or Spirits of Motion were detached; they were placed in such a manner within the course of evolution that, instead of helping it onward, they had to put hindrance in its way. Thus the deeds of — if I may coin the word — ‘adversely commanded’ Mights were thrown athwart the course of evolution. For the ruling world-powers of the  hierarchies said to themselves: ‘Never could that arise which has to arise if the way were always smooth. Greater things must take place.’ Imagine that you have a car to push. You develop your strength by pushing it. If heavy ballast is put into the car it will be heavier to push, but you would develop greater strength. Suppose the Godhead had let the world's evolution remain as it was: up to the time just after the Jupiter evolution, men could have certainly developed very well; but humanity could have become still stronger if hindrance had been in its way. For the good of humanity, certain Mights or Spirits of Motion had to receive adverse commands. These were not evil at first: one need not consider them as evil powers — one might even say they sacrificed themselves by putting obstacles into the way of development. Therefore these Mights may be called the gods of hindrance, of impediment, in the widest sense of the word. They are the gods of the impediments and hindrances placed in the way, on the high-road of development. And from that moment, the possibility was given for all that was achieved in the future. These ‘adversely commanded’ Mights were not yet evil in themselves; on the contrary, they were the great promoters of development, promoting it through the storms they produced — but they were the breeders of evil; for out of the storms they produced, evil gradually arose.
Naturally, the path of development of these ‘adversely commanded’ Mights shaped itself quite differently from that of their brothers; their action was quite different, and the result was that, during the Moon development, they became the tempters, the seducers, of those beings we call Angels. The Angels were passing through their human stage during the Moon development. There were Angel-men on the Moon who, so to speak, looked at the way the hindrances acted on development, and who said to themselves: ‘We can now put ourselves in the way of conquering the hindrances, we can plunge into the whole stream of the Moon's evolution — but we prefer to pass it by, we do not want to plunge into it, we want to remain above with the good gods.’ These Angels tore themselves away, at a certain moment of the Moon's development, from the Mights who were throwing hindering influence down into the Moon evolution. But there were other Angels who said to themselves: ‘We will not follow our brothers, for if we follow them, development would turn back, nothing new would be embodied in it.’ Just because of the existence of these hindering influences, something new was infused into evolution, from the time of the Moon onward. Those beings who said to themselves: ‘I shall have nothing to do with that which is going on down there, I shall stay with the Mights who do not wish to be tainted by anything low,’ these withdrew from the mass of the Moon and became part of the followers of all that is connected with the Sun. They would not have anything to do with what was proceeding on the forsaken Moon, when all the hindering powers held sway. But the other beings, who plunged down into it, had now to take into their bodily nature (which they received on the Moon) all the hindering influences that existed there. They had to harden themselves more, as it were, than would otherwise have been the case. Their bodily sheaths became denser than they would otherwise have been. In their bodies were implanted the consequences of the deeds of the Mights, but these deeds were well rooted in the divine plan of the world — we must keep that well in mind. A further result of this was, that as the Moon development passed on into that of the Earth, the whole process was repeated, and those beings who had plunged into the full tide of the Moon's development remained behind those who would have nothing to do with it — and others remained still further back, and were attracted by the retrograding development. The result of all this was that during the Earth evolution Angel-men existed who were advanced — and others who were retrograde.
The advanced Angel-men approached the men of the Earth during the time when, in Lemuria, they were ripe to receive the germ of the human ‘I’ and gave them the choice, as it were, to rise into the spiritual worlds, then, and not to have anything further to do with that which since the time of the Moon had mingled with the course of the world's development. The beings who had stayed behind, whom we call the Luciferic beings, came into touch with the human astral body — they could not approach the ‘I’ — and grafted into that astral body all the results of the fight in heaven. While to the Mights was assigned the fight in heaven — for they were created Gods of Hindrance — the consequences of their deeds now slipped into the human astral body, and there signified something else: they signified the possibility of error and the possibility of evil. Man had now been given the possibility of error and of evil, with the object that he should also have the possibility of rising above evil and error, through his own strength.
Now consider that such beings as the Mights, belonging to the second threefold hierarchy, could not have had the power to become evil of their own free will; they had to be ‘adversely commanded;’ and it was the beings of the third threefold  hierarchy, and only those who stand nearest to man, the Angels, who first had it in their power to follow, or not to follow, the hindering powers. Those who did not follow we always find represented in the pictures which illustrate the victories fought out in heaven. They express what happened during the Moon development, when Man had progressed as far as the organization of his astral body, that is to the human-animal stage. Then those Angel beings who, so to speak, remained good tore themselves away from the course of the Moon development; they escaped from what was going on down there on the Moon. And this picture is represented to the soul of man in different ways. It was originally represented in the fight of Michael with the dragon. You see it also in the symbol of the Bull of Mithra, where it is specially clearly expressed. It is, of course, not meant that in doing this these Angel beings avoided their duty, but they were put forth as an ideal for the future. ‘These beings’ — it was said — ‘preferred to rise into the spiritual worlds, whereas you have descended. Other beings came down with you, those who followed the powers of  hindrance. You must now work upon that which you have absorbed in this descent, and carry it up again into the spiritual world; when you rise again you must become a Michael, a conqueror of the Bull.’ For every symbol of this kind is used in a twofold sense.
Thus we see that because those ‘Mights’ were given certain orders, men first received the possibility of reaching their goal by their own strength, a thing which even the highest Seraphim cannot do of themselves. This is very essential. The Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones cannot do otherwise than follow the immediate impulses given them by the Godhead. The Dominions of the second threefold hierarchy, too, cannot do otherwise. A certain number of the Mights were ordered to oppose, so that those Mights also, who as it were threw themselves into the way of development, could not do otherwise than follow the orders of the Godhead. In what is called the ‘origin of evil’ they could but perform the will of the Godhead, who by means of evil wishes to develop more powerful good.
Now let us descend to those beings we call the Powers, or Spirits of Form. They also could not have come to this of themselves. They could not have grown wicked of themselves, nor could the Spirits of Personality, nor could the Spirits of Fire. For, when these were men on the Sun, the Mights had not yet been ordered to oppose, there was as yet no possibility of becoming wicked. The first who had the possibility of becoming evil were the Angels, for this could only happen after the development of the Moon. There, from the Sun to the Moon, the Fight in Heaven took place. A part of the Angels avoided this possibility: they would not be seduced by the forces which had to introduce hindrances; they held to the way of the old nature. Thus, as far down as the Angels, or part of them, we have  beings who are absolutely unable to do otherwise than follow the divine will. It is essential to remember this.
We now come to two categories of beings. First those Angels who fling themselves into that which the Mights produced during the Fight in Heaven; these are beings who on account of their later deeds we call Luciferic. These beings became united to the human astral bodies during the Earth evolution and gave to men the possibility of evil, and also the possibility of developing through their own free power; so that in the whole sequence of hierarchies we have only men, and some of the Angels, who have the possibility of freedom. In the midst of the ranks of the Angels the possibility of freedom begins, but it is first fully developed in men. When man entered the Earth, he had at the beginning to be assailed by the power of the Luciferic Spirits; they penetrated the human astral body with their force. The ‘I’ was therefore attracted toward those forces, so that during the Lemurian and Atlantean evolutions, and even later, we have the ‘I’ as in a cloud, as sheathed in a cloud, which was produced by the assaults of Lucifer. Man was saved from being overpowered by these forces which penetrated him, only because he was overshadowed by earlier beings, because Angels who had remained above, and also Archangels, came down from the spirit world, incarnated into special individuals and guided men. And this continued up to the time when something quite particular took place: when a being, whose existence up to then had always been united to the existence of the Sun, when a being had progressed so far as to be able to penetrate not only the physical, etheric, and astral bodies of men, as former exalted beings had done, but to penetrate into man even as far as his ego.
You remember how I described that in former times higher beings descended and ensouled the human physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Now at a special time an individual arose who was chosen to receive into him the highest being — a being who was at first united to our Sun existence, but who now entered into and worked inspiringly in all the powers of this individual's ego.
The ‘I’ expresses itself through the blood. Just as the material substance of blood is the expression of the ‘I’, so the warmth or fire of the blood, which is the remnant of the Saturn fire, is the expression of the ego in the elements. This being had to find expression physically in a twofold way — first through fire. It proclaimed itself to Moses through fire in the burning bush and in the thunder and lightning on Sinai. For it is the same being who later was able to penetrate into the human ‘I’ who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and in the thunder and lightning on Sinai. This being prepared its advent, and appeared in a body in which blood flowed — in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Through this, a Sun-Being entered into an earthly individuality. Because the human ego will be filled ever more and more by the force which then entered into it, it will become ever more and more capable of overcoming by its own power the influences which can pull it down. For the being who could penetrate into the ego of man  is of a different nature from those other beings who formerly descended to Earth and ensouled physical, etheric, and astral bodies. Let us take the ancient holy rishis. In their etheric body there was, as we have seen, the spirit of a high  being; they had inherited that etheric body from great Atlantean forefathers in whom that exalted being had lived. It was passed over to them. They could not follow at all with their ego and their astral body the things which their etheric body expressed in the moments of inspiration. And so it happened from epoch to epoch. Men were inspired; it was always as if a power was in them, something that took strong possession of them. From what man was capable of in himself — he was withdrawn, in order to become better. He was inspired by a better being. This was the case with all founders of religions. They were ensouled by a being who was still high above the Fight in Heaven, so that they were not left completely to themselves.
In the Christ there appeared a being of a quite different nature, who did nothing, nothing at all, to force people to come to Him. And this is essential! If you take the whole manner in which Christianity was propagated you will find a living proof that the Christ during His life did nothing of what was done later for the propagation of Christianity. Look at the founders of religion of the ancient times! They are the great  teachers of humanity: they taught from a certain period in our development, and their teaching acted on men in an overwhelming way. Look at the Christ! Does He, fundamentally speaking, work through His teaching? The man who thinks that His teaching is the most important part does not understand the Christ. The Christ did not in the first place act at all through His teaching, but through that which He did. And the greatest deed of the Christ was that which ended with death, was His Death. This is the essential point, that the Christ acted though a deed, and when this deed spread through the world, He was not any more physically present. This is the great difference between the Christ and the other great founders of religions. This difference is not at all understood as yet, but is essential. You can follow all the teachings of Christianity, all that is preached as Christianity, and you can find it all in other religious systems. This cannot be denied. You can say: ‘All the essential part of Christian teaching is included in other teachings.’ But has Christianity been operative in the contents of its teaching? He who at first did what was most essential toward spreading the essence of Christianity, did he rely on its teaching? Look at the Apostle Paul! Was he transformed from a Saul to a Paul by what is written in the Gospels? He persecuted the followers of Christ Jesus. He persecuted them until He who died on the Cross appeared to him from the clouds, until he, Paul, had his own personal occult experience of the fact that Christ lived. It was the effect of that death, the result of that deed, which gave the impulse to Paul — this was the cause of it all. Other religious systems act through their teachings, and their teachings are the same as in Christianity — but the essential thing in Christianity is not the teaching, but what happened, the deed. And this deed is such that it does not act upon man except when man makes up his mind to let it act upon him, that is, when it can be joined to the absolutely free character of his ego. For it is not sufficient that the Christ should be present in the man's astral body: He must be present in his ego if He is to be really understood. And the ego must decide in complete freedom, voluntarily, to receive the Christ. This it is with which we are concerned, this is the point. Just because of this, the human ego, when it unites with the Christ, receives into itself a reality, a divine force which is not a mere teaching. Therefore it can be asserted a hundred times that the teachings of Christianity are to be found in other religions — but this is not the question:  the fact is that the essential thing in Christianity is the deed which can become one's own possession only through free will, through a voluntary ascent into the higher worlds. Man takes the Christ-force into himself, because he voluntarily receives it, and no one can receive it who does not do so voluntarily. This has only been made possible for man because he has become human upon Earth, because he was called to grow into man on Earth.
The fallen Angels who have spread over the Earth as Lucifer are in a different position. These ought really to have become men on the Moon; they have remained behind in their development; hence they can enter the astral body but not the ego. They are in a peculiar position, a position which we can only describe graphically, even if it appears somewhat pedantic.
Image 9
Let us suppose, leaving aside the physical and etheric body, that the astral body of man during the Lemurian development was represented by the circle A-B-C, and the ego was the circle enclosed (a) in that astral body. The ego gradually entered the astral body. What happens now? During the Lemurian development the Luciferic forces slip on all sides into the man's astral body and penetrate him with their activities, which find expression in his lower passions. That through which he succumbs to error and evil is rooted in his astral body; the Luciferic spirits have implanted this into him. (If they had not done this he would never have had the possibility of error and evil, he would have been lifted up to the place whence he receives his ego, untouched by all hindering influences.) So it goes on, but the great leaders protect humanity as far as it is necessary so that it should not sink too low.
Now comes the Advent of the Christ. Let us take a man who has voluntarily received the Christ. Christianity is only at its beginning. But let us take the ideal: the man's  ego has voluntarily, with complete free will, allowed the Christ's force to flow into him. When the ego has progressed so far that it has filled itself with the Christ, then this Christ-force irradiates the astral body also. In that same astral body into which the Luciferic powers had formerly implanted their deeds  the Christ power is now radiating from within outward. What happens in the future? Because we have overcome with the help of Christ, and only with His help, all those human qualities which come from Lucifer, we also, as men, gradually release the Luciferic powers; and a time will come when the Luciferic powers — who during the Moon development had to sink downward into a certain lower evolution for the sake of human freedom, and who had not themselves the opportunity of experiencing the Christ-force upon Earth — these Luciferic powers will experience the Christ-force through man, and through him they will be released. Man will save Lucifer, when he takes the Christ-force into himself in the necessary way. And because of this, man will again grow stronger than he otherwise would have been. For imagine: If man had not received the Luciferic powers, and then the Christ-force irradiating him, would not have encountered the hindrances of the Luciferic forces, and it would have been impossible for man to progress so far in wisdom, goodness, and in truth as he may do when he has to overcome these opposing forces.
Thus in man we have a member of the hierarchies who, as we see, is very distinct from the other members. We see that man's position is different from that of the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, the Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form, and different too from the Spirits of Personality, from the Fire Spirits the Archangels, and from some of the Angels. He can say to himself, looking into the future: ‘I am called on to search in my own inmost depths for that which gives me the impulse for my actions — I do not receive it from gazing on the Godhead like the Seraphim, but from the innermost depth of my own being.’

The Christ is a God whose action is such that one is not absolutely forced to follow His Impulse; one follows it only when one understands it, and in freedom. He is, therefore, the God who never seeks to hinder the free development of the ego in this or that direction. The Christ says in the very highest sense: ‘You will know the Truth and the Truth will make you free.’
And those beings of the next hierarchy who had the possibility of doing evil, the Luciferic beings, these will again be released, liberated, by the power of man.
We therefore see, my dear friends, how in fact world development does not simply repeat itself, but that new things enter. For a human stage such as is lived by men at present was never met with before, not with the Angels, nor the Archangels, nor the Spirit of Personality. Man had a completely new mission to fulfill in the world, the mission we have just characterized. For the sake of this mission he has descended into the world of the Earth. And the Christ came into the world as a free helper for him, not as a God acting from above, but as a first-born among many.
Thus at last we understand all the dignity and all the importance of Man as a member of our  hierarchies, and when we glance upward to all the nobility and the glory of the higher hierarchies we say to ourselves: Be they ever so great, so wise, so good that they never err from the right path, yet the great mission of man is to bring freedom into the world, and with freedom firstly that which one calls love in the true sense of the word. For love without freedom is impossible. A being who blindly follows an impulse, just follows it; but for a being who can also act otherwise, there exists but one force which he could follow, and that is love. Freedom and love are two poles which belong to each other. If love is to enter into our cosmos, it can happen only through freedom — that means, only through Lucifer and those who conquer him — and at the same time through the Savior of men, through the Christ. Therefore the Earth is the Cosmos of Freedom and Love — and therefore the essential thing is that we, without tempting man away from humility, must learn to reckon the hierarchies as they ever have been reckoned in Western esotericism. Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones:  these follow the direct impulse of the Godhead, having the sight of God. The Spirits of Wisdom, of Motion, and of Form (Dominions, Mights, and Powers):  these are as yet so bound to the higher powers that they have to be given ‘adverse commands’ in order that evolution should have the possibility of proceeding further. The Archangels and the Spirits of Personality also cannot fail — cannot, through their own free will, sink into evil. Therefore, the spirits of the hierarchies next above man were called Messengers and Arch-Messengers, to show that they did not fulfill their own tasks but the tasks of those who stand immediately above them. But in men a hierarchy is maturing which will fulfill its own tasks.
Through the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan developments man will be always maturing toward  accomplishment from out his own impulses. Even if today he is not yet so far advanced, he will attain to it in time.
Which are the  hierarchies? We begin: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; the Spirits of Wisdom, who exercise their dominion only so far as they act in the direction of the impulses they receive from the gods; then the Mights or Spirits of Motion, who have their power only because they receive it from above; it is the same with the Spirits of Form. Were they to become evil, they could become so only according to the decision of Divinity. We come then to the Spirits of Personality, to the Arch-Messengers, and Messengers, and have now descended almost as far as to men. And what can be said of Man if we place him in the ranks of the hierarchies? After the Archangels and Angels, the Arch-Messengers and Messengers, we will have to rank the Spirits of Freedom or the Spirits of Love — for this, beginning from above, is the tenth of the hierarchies, which although in process of development, yet belongs to the hierarchies.
In the universe we have not to do with repetitions: each time that a cycle is passed, something new is added to the world's evolution. And to introduce the new element is always the mission of that Hierarchy which is at its human stage of development.
In these lectures we have endeavored to prove the significance of Man through the significance of our Cosmos; we have, to a certain degree at least, questioned ourselves today as to the spiritual significance of man, and we have endeavored to explain man — this point in the center of the universe — in accordance with the teaching of the Mysteries, by explaining him, the point, from the circumference!
In doing this our knowledge gains reality; for it is most essential that all true spiritual knowledge should be a concrete true knowledge. This means that the knowledge gained through spiritual science should itself give a direct presentation of the cosmos and of the spiritual hierarchies.
We stand at the central point of the world. Everything around us loses significance for us, because we have to say: The external world of sense cannot solve the riddle for us. It is as if everything were to draw together to a center, and when this is done — then from the circumference, the solution of this world problem comes back to us in actual reality, just as is the case with matter itself, which is a reflection and symbol of the spiritual. It draws together in the center, disappears there, and then emerges again out of the circumference. This is a reality. And our knowledge is real when it thus stands before our eyes like the construction and the process of the whole cosmos. Then it is no speculation, no fancy: it is born out of the cosmos itself. This is the feeling we should develop. Wisdom must become an ideal for us, born out of the periphery of the cosmos and capable of filling us with great strength, with the strength that enables us to fulfill our own destiny and to achieve our own cosmic ideal. With this strength, we shall also be able to realize the human ideal that awaits us in the future.

Ex Deo Nascimur       In Christo Morimur       Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus