Saturday, December 3, 2016
Lecture 1 of 4. Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, November 1, 1910:
At the General Meeting last year you heard a course of lectures on Anthroposophy. This year I shall deliver a series entitled Psychosophy, from a similar point of view, and later on it will be necessary to give a third course on Pneumatosophy. In this way the three cycles will combine and form a bridge connecting the three worlds in which we live. This will close the circle that takes us in a roundabout way back to our starting point.
Psychosophy is intended as a study of the human soul starting with what it can itself experience here in the physical world, but then ascending to higher realms in order to show that the life we encounter and can observe in the physical world leads up to glimpses of a higher soul life, from which the light of theosophy will come to meet us, as it were. A variety of considerations will occupy us during these lectures. Beginning with apparently simple matters, we will ascend to a contemplation of those phenomena of the soul life that we call attention, memory, passions, emotions. We will consider the realms of the true, the good, and the beautiful. Then we will examine the phenomena that affect human life beneficially or harmfully, out of which arise actual causes of sickness that at the present time intervene and influence our soul lives. This will bring us to the point where the psychic element enters our physical life, our daily work. We shall have to study the interaction of bodily weal and woe, and the forms of the soul life. Our observations will lead us up to the high ideals of human society, and we will consider phenomena of our daily life, such as the origin of means for passing the time and how these, in turn, affect the soul life and reveal themselves in manifold concatenations. Then the curious effects of boredom and much else will be presented, as well as remedies for poor memory, lack of forceful thinking, and the like.
You will readily understand that a detailed exposition of the soul life calls for consideration of the adjacent realms. Theosophy, of course, has provided you with ready mental images for relating the soul life of man to other realms. You are familiar with the organization of the nature of man as body, soul, and spirit, from which it is natural to infer that the soul life comes in contact on the one side with the bodily life and on the other with the spiritual life. This is the step that leads up from anthroposophy to psychosophy, and at some future time we must ascend from psychosophy to pneumatosophy.
If we would study this soul life by itself, within its two boundaries, we must ask what it is. Well, all that we are accustomed to call the outer world, all that we see before and about us — animals, plants, minerals, clouds, rivers — whatever we encounter on the physical plane, we do not include in our soul life, no matter what mental pictures we may add to our perceptions.
A rose, when encountered on the physical plane, is not a part of our soul life, but when the rose gives us pleasure, when it stimulates something like gratification in our soul, this fact then pertains to our soul life. To meet a person and to form a conception of his hair, his expression, etc., is not a function of the soul life, but to take an interest in him, to feel love or antipathy for him, that is an experience of the soul. That is the way in which matters pertaining to the soul must be characterized.
Now let us turn to something different. Suppose we are watching a man carrying out some action that induces the feeling in us of a good deed, morally laudable. A psychic experience of that sort comprises something more. Here it is not a question of how the action arose, nor even of whether we were moved by love or hate in estimating it; we find something beyond what has thus far been characterized. As soon as we judge an act to be good or bad, higher interests play a part. When we call an act good, we know that it would be wrong for this quality to depend upon our verdict. We must dissociate our personality from the question of whether an act is good or bad. True, the verdict must arise in us, but independent of ourselves. Nothing in the outer world can tell us that the act is a good one; the verdict must come about within ourselves, but uninfluenced by love or hate. In all such inner experiences that nevertheless have a significance independent of our inner frame of mind, so that it is immaterial whether we pass judgment or not — in all such experiences the spirit plays a part in the human soul. Thus we have characterized the relation of the soul to the outer world by reviewing these three cases precisely from the outer world.
Summing up, first, we observe something as pertaining to the outer world: the rose. Second, we experience something in connection with it: pleasure. Third, something arises in us, but something that must be independent of us: judgment (good or evil). The outer world must reveal itself to the soul by way of the body. Soul experiences take place wholly within us, and the spirit declares itself within the soul. The point is to keep firmly in mind that the soul flows and ebbs in inner facts.
It now remains to find something through which the character of our soul life is brought to our consciousness from within as well. Thus far we have considered the soul life as it is bounded from without. Now we shall see how it can be characterized from within, disregarding what is adjacent, and clearly expressing in a conception what we mean by the pure soul principle. We must acquire a mental picture of the nature of the soul as it has its being on the physical plane.
The basic character of pure soul, of pure psychic experience, can be described in two ways. Speaking accurately in regard to earthly conditions, and indicating the inner phenomena of the soul life exactly as far as its boundaries, there are in the first instance two conceptions that we can apply to man's pure soul experiences and to nothing else. The inner phenomena of the soul life — its inner fluctuation — clearly indicate its boundaries, and the attributes of these boundaries must be mentioned. My next task will therefore be to characterize these inner phenomena of the soul life, and this, as I said, can be done in two ways. We will devote today's lecture to gathering conceptions, but never mind; it will greatly help us to understand phenomena that concern us intimately. It is a matter of gleaning hints that are extraordinarily important in connection with the soul life, whether healthy or diseased.
One conception by which the pure soul principle can be characterized is reasoning. Reasoning is one activity of the soul, and all remaining psychic experiences can be summed up in what we may call the inner experiences of love and hate.
Rightly understood, these two conceptions — reasoning, and love and hate — comprise the entire inner soul life. Everything else denotes something that derives from without through the body or from within through the spirit. We shall see how fruitful a careful study of the two psychic activities can become. Everything pertaining to the soul, then, is either reasoning or living in love and hate; at bottom these two conceptions are the only pure soul activities. Reasoning on the one hand, loving and hating on the other — these are the forces of the soul life exclusively pertaining to it.
If we are to understand each other aright with regard to these two basic forces of the soul, it behooves us to visualize clearly first, the significance of reasoning within the soul life, and then, the role played in the soul life by love and hate. I refer to reasoning not from the standpoint of logic, but of the activity comprising the inner soul process of reasoning; not judgment, but the activity, reasoning.
If you are led to concede that the rose is red, you have reasoned; the activity of reasoning is involved. If you are inwardly constrained to say that the rose is red, that man is good, the Sistine Madonna is beautiful, that steeple is high, you are dealing with activities of the inner soul life that we designate as reasoning.
Now, how about love and hate? A little introspection will show you that we do not pass by the outer world in such a way that our soul remains untouched by the majority of external phenomena. Passing through a landscape you see cloud-capped mountain peaks, and you experience joy in your soul. What underlies this is that you love what you experience through this landscape. Whatever exists of joy or horror in an experience, that is love or hate. If love or hate hides in many kinds of soul experiences, that is merely because these accompany us incessantly from morning to night. If you see someone committing an evil deed and are repelled by it, you have a hidden experience of hate, exactly as you have when you turn from a malodorous flower. Love and hate accompany the soul life continually, and so does reasoning.
If we now observe an important concomitant of reasoning, we can learn to know the phenomena of the inner soul life better still. It is this: that all reasoning has an effect in the soul life, and this fact is the key to the soul life. By forming the judgment “the rose is red,” “that man is good,” you retain a result in the soul. It can be characterized this way: When you have given the verdict, the inference is the conception, “the red rose,” “the good man.” The verdict “the rose is red” has been transformed into the conception “the red rose.” As a being endowed with soul, you then continue to live with this conception. Every judgment is a confluence of conceptions. Here we have, on the one hand the rose, on the other, red. These flow toward each other and combine in the conception “the red rose,” which you carry with you in your further soul life.
This may sound dry, but it is indispensable for an understanding of the soul life. Neither the soul life nor its relation to the higher planes could be accurately comprehended without the knowledge that judgments converge into visualizations.
Experiences of love and hate, on the other hand, do not give rise to the question of how do they converge, but rather as to where they arise. In the case of reasoning, the question is, Whither? and the answer is: Toward the conception. But with regard to love and hate the question is, Whence? We will always find one impulse in soul experiences themselves that gives rise to love and hate, an impulse that breaks into the soul life from another quarter, as it were. All love and hate can finally be traced back to what within the soul life we call desire. Entering from another direction and underlying love and hate, as these manifest themselves in the soul, desire can always be found streaming into our soul life. Into one side of it flows desire, manifesting itself in love and hate. On the other side the activity of reasoning leads to visualization.
Desire is something you can easily recognize as arising naturally out of the inner soul life. The external cause of it may not at all be known to you, but you do know that it appears in your inner soul life, and that invariably love and hate result. In like manner you realize that your verdict “the rose is red” arises in the soul, but when this verdict has culminated in a visualization, the latter must have external validity. Reasoning takes place in the soul; it arises out of the inner life. We can put it this way: primarily, desire — for reasons not known to us today — manifests itself in the soul and expresses itself in love and hate. But in the same way — also for unknown reasons — the soul is impelled to permit judgment to enter from the wellspring of its own being, and provided the verdict has been arrived at in a certain way, the visualization must be valid for the outer world.
It will seem strange to you that I should be so prolix in expounding the elementary concepts of the soul life. You may think that these matters could be skipped over more rapidly, and indeed, they could, but just because these relationships remain largely unnoticed in scientific circles, error after error is committed. I will mention one prime error common today. By drawing far-reaching conclusions, those guilty of this error become entangled in misconceptions; they start from entirely false premises. In many books on physiology you can find the statement that the raising of a hand or leg is brought about by the fact that we have two kinds of nerves: those that run from the sense organs to the brain or the spinal cord and that transmit messages to the brain, so to speak, are supposed to be contrasted with another set, called motor nerves, as against the sensory or perceptive nerves. According to this theory, when an object is seen, the message of the sense organ is first carried to the brain, where the stimulus thus exerted is supposed to stream out into a nerve that leads to a muscle, and only then does the impulse arise that entails motion. According to spiritual science, however, that is not the case. What is called the motor nerve does, in fact, exist as a physical unit, but it does not serve to instigate the motion. It serves only to enable us to perceive the motion ourselves, to check up on it, to bring our own movement to consciousness. Just as the optic nerve, through which we perceive an external event, is a sensory nerve, so the muscle nerve leading to the hand is also a sensory nerve, whose function is to keep track of the movement of our hand. This example of faulty scientific thinking is a prime error that has poisoned all physiology and psychology.
Our task is clearly to understand the role played by these two elements of the soul: reasoning, and love and hate. They play an enormous role, for the entire soul life runs its course in manifold combinations of these two elements. We should misconstrue this soul life, however, if we failed to allow for extraneous forces, not properly psychic, that constantly enter in across the border. The first example that occurs to us, to be met with everywhere in daily life, around which, indeed, our everyday soul life is built, is that of sense experiences. These are the various experiences brought about by the ear, the eye, the tongue, the nose, etc. What we experience through our sense organs we take into our soul, in a way, and there it lives on. With this in mind we can actually speak of our soul reaching as far as a certain boundary, which is the boundary of the sense organs. We have posted sentinels, as it were, at the boundaries of our soul life, and what these sentinels report of the outer world we take into our soul life and carry further.
We can now ask about those impressions in the soul that we experience through our sense organs. What is represented within the soul life by what we experience through the ear as tone, through the eye as color, through the nose as smell? Well, the study of these sense experiences is as a rule pursued in a lopsided manner. Science fails to face the fact that the processes taking place at the boundaries of the soul life are composed of two factors, two elements. One element is perception, our immediate experience of the outer world. You hold the tone, the color, the smell, and so forth — that is, the impression of these — only as long as you are in contact with the external stimulus. The impression, the interaction of inner and outer factors, ceases at once when you turn away, close your eyes, or the like.
What does that prove? If you consider the immediate perception in conjunction with the fact that later you know something (you know the tone, the color, etc.), it proves that you have retained something of your experience of the outer world, even though the experience has ceased. What does this imply? That something has completely entered your soul life. Something that has become part of your soul life must inevitably run its course there because you carry it with you. If it were part of the outer world you could not carry it with you. You can continue to hold the impression of color, the perception of the color impression, only if it has remained within your soul.
It is necessary to distinguish between a sense perception proper and what you continue to carry in the soul, what you detach from the outer world. The experience you thus derive from objects we will call perception, and what you continue to carry in the soul, sensation. As a foundation, then, for subsequent expositions, keep in mind the sharp distinction between sense perceptions and what we retain as sensation (sentience). The perception of color ceases when you turn away; the sensation of it remains. Ordinarily such fine distinctions are unnecessary, but for these four lectures they are apposite.
So we continue on our way, carrying these sensations about with us in our soul. We now ask if it could be that these sensations, derived from external objects, constitute a new element of the soul life, as opposed to reasoning and the phenomena of love and hate, which we termed the exclusive elements? If that were the case I should have been guilty of omitting to name something that also constitutes an inner experience, namely, sentience. But that is not the way matters stand; sentience is not a separate element of the soul life.
If you have sensed the color red, the color red is not an inner soul experience, for it is the object that is red. If “red” were an inner soul experience your whole color-perception of red would avail you nothing. The quality “red” did not originate in your soul life. What did arise there was the activity in which you engaged for the purpose of carrying away with you something of the red. What you did while confronting the rose, that is inner soul life. This activity of your inner soul is in reality nothing more than a fusion of what I have described to you as the two basic elements of the soul life.
But then we must consider the following. If what I have told you of the two elements is true — if love and hate, deriving from desire, and reasoning lead to visualization — then what was characterized as sentience would have to be related to those two elements in the case of a sense experience as well. A sense experience must be accompanied by love and hate, and reasoning. Imagine you have a sense experience of color, and observe closely what happens:
Desire and reasoning flow to the boundary of the outer world
and become visualization of the material object.
Above the heavy line is the outer world, below it the world of the soul. The line is the boundary. When at this boundary an object makes an impression upon the sense organs and induces an experience — for instance, of color this experience must be met by the result of love and hate and of reasoning, emanating from the soul as visualization. Nothing else can flow out of the soul.
Note, however, an important distinction that can exist between different kinds of desire, different kinds of reasoning. As an example, let us assume that while you are waiting for a train, day-dreaming, the visualization of a disagreeable past experience appears in your soul life, and side by side with this appears another, namely, everything unpleasant that has happened to you since then as a result of that experience. Then you can sense how these two visualizations combine into a more intensive visualization of that distressing event. During this process nothing related to it has occurred in the outer world. A judgment has been reached that remains wholly within psychic experience. Nevertheless, love and hate appeared in the soul life; they amalgamated with the visualization, as it were. As you sit there dreaming, your environment need show nothing of all this; your surroundings are of no consequence; yet something occurs. A visualization comes about through love and hate, and reasoning, without any stimulus from without.
That is quite a different thing from confronting a sense experience. When we perform such an inner act — let judgments arise, provoke love and hate — we remain within the sea of our soul life. But when a sense experience arises we must advance to the boundary of the outer world, and there it is as though the currents of the soul life were directly stopped by the outer world.
Whenever a sense experience is involved we are stopped by the outer world. Desire, love and hate, flash to the boundary; the capacity for judgment flows there too, and both are obstructed at that boundary. The result is that reasoning and desire are checked. They are there, but the soul does not perceive them, and the sense sensation is brought about by this flowing to the boundary and there being stopped. The sense sensation is nothing but a phenomenon of love, hate, and reasoning that remains unconscious, though these are obstructed and held fast from without.
We can put it this way: Ebbing and flowing in the sea of our soul life, psychically substantial, is what can be designated love and hate, and reasoning. This manifests itself in various ways.
When a judgment is reached within the soul itself, the soul is aware of the activity of reasoning as visualization.
When the soul directs the activity toward the outer world, it must stop at the boundary and it perceives the outer world: perception.
When, however, the soul directs the activity toward the outer world but stops before it is reached, sentience arises. Sentience is the confluence of desire and reasoning within the soul life.
If we consider what the soul life ordinarily comprises, we find that our inner experiences really consist, as a rule, of what we have carried away with us from sense experiences. A little introspection will convince you of this. If you want to create higher visualizations for yourself, you will notice how helpful it is for your inner soul life to try to substantialize what is not of the senses, to imagine it pictorially, to clothe it in a garb that is faintly a sensation of color or tone. Speech itself could teach us how extensive is the soul's need to express higher things in such a way as to symbolize them in sense sensations. As a rule, the symbol is a necessity, though people usually have no inkling of the fact, because in symbols the likeness is shadowy, nebulous.
Try, for a moment, to imagine something without the aid of a symbol — a triangle, for example; a triangle without color or any link with any sense sensation. Just try it, and you will see how difficult it is to visualize a triangle un-symbolized, that is, a visualization not associated with any sense picture. Most people are quite incapable of accomplishing this. Symbols alone provide the possibility of rising to higher visualizations. Even language is aided by symbolization. Observe how we are forced at every turn to symbolize speech. I said that a symbol must be verknüpft (linked) with the visualization of a triangle: what a crude conception, knüpfen! [TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Knüpfen means literally to knot together.] Even words themselves disclose the prevalence of symbols, and we see to how great an extent the soul life consists of products of sensations.
We have just one conception that cannot be directly classed as an outer sense experience, although it keeps recurring as an inner soul experience and we must continually relate it to the outer sense experiences: the conception of the ego. If we face the purely psychic state of affairs, we must concede that man lives largely in a world of sense sensations. In this world the conception of the ego keeps bobbing up and crowding forward, but this ego is not always present as a conception. It would be foolish to assume that the ego conception could be present continually or for a prolonged period. Fancy what it would be like to keep saying to yourself, to keep visualizing incessantly, I, I, I ...! No, that is not what you do. You have other conceptions, such as red, blue, tone, large, small. Nevertheless you know that your visualizing occurs in your ego, that your ego must participate whenever a sense experience takes place. What we call soul experience is in a sense at the same time ego experience. You know that soul experiences — desire, reasoning, etc. — must always be opposed by the ego, but no matter how insistently visualizations are stimulated by the outer world, the conception of the ego can never possibly be created merely through the outer world. It does not enter from without. True, the ego sensation, the ego conception, invariably accompanies these sense conceptions that originate in the outer world, but it does not itself arise there. It emerges from the sea of the soul life and, as a visualization, joins the other visualizations, as it were.
Out of the sea of soul experience the other sense experiences emerge as well, but only when outer causes are in question. In this fact is to be seen primarily the sole difference between the ego sensation and sensations consequent upon sense perception. A significant phenomenon thus confronts us. In the midst of our soul life there appears a conception that joins the others coming from without. How is this to be explained?
Among present-day philosophers and psychologists, even outside the anthroposophical movement, there are some who point out the importance of the ego conception, but strangely enough these psychologists, no matter how well-meaning, invariably overshoot the mark. The French philosopher Bergson, was one who emphasized the significance, the distinctive character, of the ego conception. From this the philosophers infer a permanence of this ego conception, or at least, that it points to something permanent, and they substantiate this view as follows. The ego differs from all other experiences of the senses and the soul by participating, as it were, in the other experiences and conceptions in such a way as to lend them their true form; ergo, it must be of a permanent nature.
Here, however, a grave error appears, and a certain objection that must be raised against Bergson's argument proves quite fatal for his inference. Let us assume that the ego conception yielded something that constitutes the soul within itself. The question would then necessarily arise as to what happens to this during sleep at night. The ego conception ceases entirely, of course, during sleep.
All these concepts concerning the participation of the ego in visualizations apply only to our waking life. They merely appear anew every morning. If the ego conception were to prove anything concerning the permanence of the ego, it would have to remain present during sleep. From the absence of the ego conception during the night it follows that after death it need not necessarily be present either. Thus there is no testimony available for the permanence and the immortality of the ego. It might be lacking, for it disappears every day.
Hence we must keep in mind that, on the one hand, the presence of the ego conception without external stimulus is significant, but that, on the other, this presence in no way proves the permanence of the ego, as the latter is away during sleep. In this way we have today reached an inference upon which we shall build further.
We have seen that two elements emerge from the surging sea of the soul life: reasoning, leading to visualization, and love and hate, deriving from desire. At the boundary of our soul life is the confluence, of which we are not aware, of desire and reasoning. An ego conception appears without external stimulus, but it shares its destiny with the other visualizations of the soul life; just as tone, color, and so forth, come and go, so does the ego conception emerge and disappear.
In the following lectures we will examine the connection of this ego conception, this soul center, with the other conceptions of the soul life — sensation, desire, reasoning, love and hate.
Related post: http://martyrion.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-alchemy-of-yoga-conceiving-christ.html
Friday, December 2, 2016
"The Christ-Individuality was on the Earth in the body of Jesus of Nazareth for three years only and does not come again in a physical body; in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch He comes in an etheric body, in the sixth epoch in an astral body, and in the seventh in a mighty Cosmic Ego that is like a great Group-Soul of humanity. When a human being dies his physical, etheric, and astral bodies fall away from him and his ego passes over to the next incarnation. It is exactly the same with the planet Earth. What is physical in our Earth falls away at the end of the Earth-period and human souls in their totality pass over into the Jupiter condition, the next planetary embodiment of the Earth. And just as in the case of an individual human being the ego is the center of his further evolution, so for the whole of future humanity the Christ-Ego in the astral and etheric bodies of men goes on to ensoul the Jupiter-existence. We therefore see how starting from a physical man on Earth the Christ gradually evolves as Etheric Christ, as Astral Christ, as Ego-Christ, in order, as Ego-Christ, to be the Spirit of the Earth who then rises to even higher stages together with all mankind." — Rudolf Steiner
Thursday, December 1, 2016
The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 8:
And he said, "The one is like a wise fisher who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of small fish. Among them the wise fisher discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the small fish back into the sea, and with no hesitation picked the great good fish. Whoever has ears, listen!"
* * * * *
Here's a thought experiment: If you could send a message to your 12-year-old self, and you were limited to 2 words, what would your message be?
For me the answer's easy: "Rudolf Steiner"
Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
It is thinking of yourself less. (AA Proverb)
"There is more value in the study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world." — Saint Teresa of Avila
"Lack of humility is due to nothing else than lack of knowledge. A penetrating, comprehensive knowledge of man in his connection with the events of the world and of history will certainly not lead to excessive self-esteem; far rather it will lead the human being to look at himself objectively. It is precisely when a man does not know himself that there rise up in him those feelings which have their source in the unknown regions of his being. Instinctive, emotional impulses make themselves felt. And it is these instinctive, emotional impulses, rooted as they are in the subconscious, that make for arrogance and pride." — Rudolf Steiner
"In the beholding of God we do not fall;
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
— Julian of Norwich
in the beholding of ourselves we may not stand."
— Julian of Norwich
Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
The spirit world is not closed;
Your eyes are closed, your heart is dead!
Faust – Goethe
Novalis: "The spirit world is indeed already unlocked for us; it is always revealed. If we suddenly became as elastic as we should be, we should see ourselves in the midst of it."
William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern."
Not "Revelation" — 'tis — that waits,
But our unfurnished eyes —
1 Corinthians 13:12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" — Matthew 7:7
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Rudolf Steiner, December 22, 1912:
I shall not be speaking today about the Christmas Festival as in previous years, for I propose to do that on Tuesday. I would ask you to think of what I shall say as a gift placed under the Christmas tree in the form of an anthroposophical Christmas study — a study which because of the significant knowledge it contains may well be the subject of lengthy reflection and meditation.
At this Christmas season we may very properly think of an individual considered by many people to be a mythological or mystical figure but with whose name we ourselves connect the spiritual impulses of Western cultural life. I refer to Christian Rosenkreutz.
With this individuality and his activity since the thirteenth century we associate everything that has to do with the propagation of the impulse given by Christ's appearance on the Earth and the fulfilment of the Mystery of Golgotha. On one occasion I also spoke of what may be called the last Initiation of Christian Rosenkreutz in the thirteenth century. Today I shall speak of a deed he performed towards the end of the sixteenth century. This deed is of particular significance because it linked with the Christ Impulse an achievement of supreme importance in the history of human evolution — an achievement before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha.
One of the innumerable factors which enable us to grasp the supreme significance of the Mystery of Golgotha in the history of mankind on Earth is the deed of Gautama Buddha, the founder of a different religion. Eastern tradition tells us that in the life usually spoken of as the Buddha life, Gautama Buddha rose in his twenty-ninth year from the rank of Bodhisattva to that of Buddhahood. We are aware of what that ascent means and also of the worldwide significance of the Sermon at Benares, the first great accomplishment of the Buddha who had previously been a Bodhisattva. Of all this we are deeply conscious.
Today we will think especially of one aspect only, namely, what it signifies in the history of worlds when a Bodhisattva rises to the rank of Buddhahood. The Eastern teaching — which does not differ from that of Western occultism in regard to this event — is that when a human being rises from the rank of Bodhisattva to that of Buddhahood, he need not henceforward incarnate on the Earth in a physical body but can continue his work in purely spiritual worlds. And so we recognize as a valid truth that the individuality who lived on Earth for the last time as Gautama Buddha has since then been present in lofty spiritual worlds continuing to influence evolution and sending impulses and forces from those spheres to further the development and stature of mankind.
We have also spoken of a significant deed of the Buddha, a deed that was his contribution to the Mystery of Golgotha. We have been reminded of the beautiful narrative in the Gospel of St. Luke concerning the shepherds who had gathered together at the time of the birth of the Jesus Child described in that Gospel. The narrative tells of a song which rang out from Angels and resounded in the devout, expectant souls of the shepherds. ‘Revelations shall tell of the Divine in the Heights and there shall be peace on Earth among men who are of good will.’ It is the song which tells of the revelation of the divine-spiritual forces in the spiritual worlds and the reflection of these forces in the hearts of men who are of good will. We have heard that the song of peace which then rang out was the contribution of the Buddha from spiritual heights to the Mystery of Golgotha. The Buddha united with the astral body of the Jesus Child of whom we are told in St. Luke's Gospel, and the song of Angels announced in that Gospel is to be understood as the influx of the gospel of Peace into the deed subsequently to be wrought by Christ Jesus. The Buddha spoke at the time of the birth of Jesus, and the song of Angels heard by the shepherds was the message from ancient, pre-Christian times of peace and all-embracing human love which were also to be integrated into the mission of Christ Jesus.
Thereafter the Buddha continued to be active in the advancing stream of Christian evolution in the West and special mention must be made of his further activity. The Buddha was no longer working in a human body but in the spiritual body in which he had revealed himself at the time of the birth of Jesus; and he continued to work, perceptible to those who through some form of Initiation are able to establish relationship not only with physical human beings but also with those sublime Leaders and Teachers who come to men in purely spiritual bodies.
A few centuries after the Mystery of Golgotha, in a Mystery school situated in the region of the Black Sea in the South of Russia, there were Teachers of great significance. What actually took place there can be no more than indicated — and even then half metaphorically. Among the Teachers present in the School in physical incarnations there was one who did not work in a physical body and could therefore be contacted only by pupils and neophytes able to establish relations with Leaders and Teachers who appeared in this Mystery Centre in spiritual bodies. One such Teacher was the Being spoken of as Gautama Buddha.
And in the seventh/eighth century after the Mystery of Golgotha this Being had a notable pupil. At that time the Buddha, in his true nature, was in no way concerned with propagating Buddhism in its old form, for he too had advanced with evolution. He had taken the Christ Impulse into the very depths of his being, had actually cooperated in its inception. What had still to be transmitted of the old form of Buddhism came to expression in the general tone and character of what the Buddha imparted in the Mystery Centre referred to above; but everything was clothed in a Christian form. It may truly be said that when the Buddha had become a Being who need no longer incarnate in a human body, he had cooperated from the spiritual world in the development of Christianity.
A faithful pupil of his had absorbed into the depths of his soul the teaching which the Buddha gave at that time but which could not become the common possession of all mankind. It was teaching which represented a union of Buddhism and Christianity. It implied absolute surrender to what is supersensible in human nature, the abandonment of any direct bond with the physical and earthly, complete dedication in heart and soul, not merely in mind and intellect, to what is of the nature of soul-and-spirit in the world; it meant withdrawal from all the externalities of life and absolute devotion in the inner life to the mysteries of the Spirit.
And when that being who had been a pupil of the Buddha and Christ, who had learnt of the Christ through the Buddha, appeared again on Earth, he was incarnated as the person known in history as Francis of Assisi. Those who desire to understand from occult knowledge the absolutely unique quality of soul and manner of life of Francis of Assisi, especially what is so impressive about him because of its remoteness from the world and everyday experience — let them realize that in his previous incarnation he was a Christian pupil in the Mystery Centre of which I have spoken.
In this way the Buddha continued to work, invisibly and supersensibly, in the stream that had become part of the process of evolution since the Mystery of Golgotha took place. The figure of Francis of Assisi is a clear indication of what the effect of the Buddha's activity would have been in all subsequent times if nothing else had happened and he had continued to work as he had done while preparing Francis of Assisi for his mission in the world. Numbers and numbers of human beings would have developed the character and disposition of Francis of Assisi. They would have become, within Christianity, disciples and followers of Buddha. But this Buddha-like quality in those who became followers of Francis of Assisi would have been quite unable to cope with the demands that would be made of humanity in modern civilization.
Let us remind ourselves of what has been said about the passage of the human soul through the various regions of the Cosmos between death and a new birth. We have heard how during that period of existence the soul of a man has to pass through the planetary spheres, to traverse the expanse of cosmic space. Between death and the new birth we actually become inhabitants, in succession, of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. We then draw our life together again in order to incarnate through a parental pair and undergo the experiences that are possible on Earth but not in other planetary spheres. Since the last death, every soul incarnated on the Earth has undergone the experiences that belong to the heavens. Through birth we bring into our existence on Earth the forces we have acquired in the various heavenly spheres.
Now let us remind ourselves of how life flows by on Earth, how at each new incarnation the human being finds that the Earth has changed and that his experiences are quite different. In the course of his incarnations an individual will have lived in pre-Christian times and have been incarnated again after the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha had been given to evolution. Let us picture with the greatest possible clarity how the Earth evolves, descending from divine-spiritual heights to a certain nadir. The impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha then made an ascent possible in the evolutionary process. The ascent is at present only beginning, but it will continue if human souls receive the impulse of this Mystery and so, later on, rise again to the stage they had reached before the temptation of Lucifer. Let us realize that, in accordance with the fundamental laws of evolution, whenever we return to the Earth through birth we find quite different conditions of existence.
The same applies to the heavenly spheres into which we pass between death and a new birth. Like our Earth, these heavenly bodies also pass through descending and ascending phases of evolution. Whenever we pass into a planetary sphere after death — let us say of Mars, or Venus, or Mercury — we enter different conditions and have different experiences, receive different impulses, which we bring back again into physical existence through birth. And because the heavenly bodies are also undergoing evolution, our souls bring back different forces into each incarnation.
Today, because of the profound significance of the Christmas Festival, our thoughts are directed to the spiritual realities of cosmic space itself and we will consider a particular example of evolution. This example is revealed to occult investigation if that investigation is able to penetrate deeply enough into the spiritual nature of other planets and planetary systems as well as into that of the Earth.
In the spiritual life of the Earth there was a descending phase of evolution until the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and thereafter a phase of ascent — now latent for the sole reason that a deeper understanding of the Christ Impulse is necessary. Similarly, there were phases of descent and ascent in the evolution of Mars, into whose sphere we pass between death and rebirth. Until the fifteenth/sixteenth century the evolution of Mars was such that what had always been bestowed upon it from the spiritual worlds was undergoing a phase of descent, just as was the case in the evolution of the Earth until the beginning of the Christian era. By the time of the fifteenth/sixteenth century it was necessary that the evolution of Mars should become a process of ascent, for the consequences of the phase of descent had become all too evident in that sphere.
As already said, when we pass again into earthly existence through birth we bring with us the impulses and forces gathered from the worlds of stars, among them the forces of Mars. The example of a certain individuality is clear evidence of the change that had come about in the forces brought by human beings from Mars to the Earth.
It is known to all occultists that the same soul which appeared on Earth in Nicolas Copernicus [1473 -1543], the inaugurator of the dawn of the modern age, had been previously incarnated from 1401 to 1464 in Cardinal Nicolas of Kues, Nicolas Cusanus. But how utterly different were these two personalities who harbored the same soul within them! Nicolas of Cusa in the fifteenth century was dedicated in mind and heart to the spiritual worlds; all his study was rooted in the spiritual worlds, and when he appeared again as Copernicus he was responsible for the great transformation which could have been achieved only by eliminating from the conception of space and the planetary system every iota of spirituality and by thinking only of the external movements and interrelationships of the heavenly bodies.
How was it possible that the same soul which had been on the Earth in Nicolas of Cusa and was wholly dedicated to the spiritual worlds could appear in the next incarnation in an individual who conceived of the heavenly bodies purely in terms of their mathematical, spatial, and geometric aspects? This was possible because a soul who passed through the Mars sphere during the interval between the time of Nicolas of Cusa and that of Copernicus had entered into a phase of decline. It was therefore not possible to bring from the Mars sphere any forces that would have inspired souls during physical life to soar into the spiritual worlds. The souls who passed through the Mars sphere at that particular time could grasp only the physical and material nature of things.
If these conditions on Mars had continued without change, if the phase of decline had been prolonged, souls would have brought with them from the Mars sphere forces that would have rendered them incapable of anything except a purely materialistic conception of the world. Nevertheless the results of the decline of Mars were responsible for bringing modern natural science into existence; these forces poured with such strength into the souls of men that they led to triumph after triumph in the domain of materialistic knowledge of the world; and in the further course of evolution this influence would have worked exclusively for the promotion of materialistic science, for the interests of trade and industry only, of external forms of culture on the Earth.
It would have been possible for a class of human beings to be formed entirely under the influence of certain old Mars forces and interested in external culture only; these human beings would have confronted another class of individuals, composed of followers of Francis of Assisi, in other words, of Buddhism transported into Christianity. A Being such as the Buddha, having continued to work until the time of Francis of Assisi as previously indicated, would have been able to produce on the Earth a counterweight to the purely materialistic conception of the world by pouring strong forces into the souls of men. But this would have led to the formation of a class of individuals capable only of leading a monastic life patterned on that of Francis of Assisi; and these individuals alone would have been able to scale the heights of spiritual life.
If this state of things had remained, humanity would have divided more and more sharply into two classes: the one composed of those who were devoted entirely to the interests of material existence on the Earth and the advancement of external culture, and the other class, due to the continuing influence of Buddha, who would have consisted of those who fostered and preserved spiritual culture. But the souls belonging to the latter class would, like Francis of Assisi, have been incapable of participating in external, material forms of civilization. These two categories of human beings would have become more and more sharply separated.
As the inevitability of this state of things could be prophetically foreseen, it became the task of the individual whom we revere under the name of Christian Rosenkreutz to prevent such a separation taking place in the further evolution of mankind on the Earth. Christian Rosenkreutz felt it to be his mission to offer to every human soul, living no matter where, the possibility of rising to the heights of spiritual life. It has always been emphasized among us and is clearly set forth in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds: How is it Achieved? that our goal in the sphere of occult development in the West is not to rise into spiritual worlds as the result of ascetic isolation from life but to make it possible for every human soul to discover for itself the path into the spiritual world. That the ascent into spiritual worlds should be compatible with every status in life, that humanity should not divide into two categories, one composed of people devoted entirely to external, industrial and commercial interests, becoming increasingly ingenious, materialized and animalized, whereas those in the other category would hold themselves aloof in a life patterned on that of Francis of Assisi — all this was the concern of Christian Rosenkreutz at the time when the approaching modern age was to inaugurate the epoch of materialistic culture during which all souls would bring with them the Mars forces in their state of decline.
And because there could not be within the souls of men the power to prevent the separation, it had to be ensured that from the Mars forces themselves there would come to man the impulse to work with his whole being for spiritual aims. For example, it was necessary that human beings should be educated to think in terms of sound natural scientific principles, to formulate ideas and concepts in line with those principles, but at the same time the soul must have the capacity to deepen and develop the ideas spiritually, in order that the way can be found from a natural scientific view of the world to lofty heights of spiritual life.
This possibility had to be created! And it was created by Christian Rosenkreutz, who towards the end of the sixteenth century gathered around him his faithful followers from all over the Earth, enabling them to participate in what takes place outwardly in space from one heavenly body to another but is prepared in the sacred Mystery Centres, where aims are pursued leading beyond those of planetary spiritual life to the spiritual life of cosmic worlds.
Christian Rosenkreutz gathered around him those who had also been with him at the time of his Initiation in the thirteenth century. Among them was one who for long years had been his pupil and friend, who had at one time been incarnated on the Earth but now no longer needed to appear in a physical incarnation: this was Gautama Buddha, now a spiritual Being after having risen to the rank of Buddhahood. He was the pupil of Christian Rosenkreutz. And in order that what could be achieved through the Buddha should become part of the mission of Christian Rosenkreutz at that time, a joint deed resulted in the transference of the Buddha from a sphere of earthly activity to one of cosmic activity. The impulse given by Christian Rosenkreutz made this possible. We will speak on another occasion in greater detail of the relationship between Gautama Buddha and Christian Rosenkreutz; at the moment it is simply a matter of stating that this relationship led to the individuality of the Buddha ceasing to work in the sphere of the Earth as he had formerly worked in the Mystery Centre near the Black Sea, and transferring his activity to Mars.
And so at the beginning of the seventeenth century there took place in the evolution of Mars something similar to what had come about at the beginning of the ascending phase of Earth evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha. What may be called the advent of the Buddha on Mars was brought about through Christian Rosenkreutz, and the ascending phase of Mars evolution began from then onwards just as on Earth the ascending phase of culture began with the Mystery of Golgotha.
Thus the Buddha became a Redeemer and Savior for Mars as Christ Jesus had become for the Earth.
The Buddha had been prepared for this by his teaching of Nirvana, lack of satisfaction with earthly existence, liberation from physical incarnation. This teaching had been prepared in a sphere outside the Earth but with the Earth's goal in view. If we can look into the soul of the Buddha and grasp the import of the Sermon at Benares we shall witness the preparation of activity that was not to be confined to the Earth. And then we shall realize how infinitely wise was the contract between Christian Rosenkreutz and the Buddha, as the result of which, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Buddha relinquished his activity on the Earth through which he would have been able, from the spiritual world, to influence human souls between birth and death, in order henceforward to work in the Mars sphere for souls between death and rebirth.
This is the momentous outcome of what might be called the transference of the essence of the Christmas Festival from the Earth to Mars. As a result, all the souls of men, in a certain sense, pass through a phase of being followers of Francis of Assisi and thereby, indirectly, of the Buddha. But they do not pass through this phase on the Earth; they pass through their monasticism — to use a paradoxical expression — their adherence to Francis of Assisi, on Mars, and bring forces from there to the Earth. As a result, what they have thus acquired remains in the shape of forces slumbering in their souls and they need not adopt a strictly monastic life in order to undergo the experiences undergone by intimate pupils of Francis of Assisi. This necessity was avoided by the transference of the Buddha to cosmic worlds by agreement with Christian Rosenkreutz, whose work on Earth now continued without the collaboration of the Buddha.
If the Buddha had continued his activity on the Earth, all that he could have achieved would have been to make men into Buddhist or Franciscan monks, and the other souls would have been abandoned to materialistic civilization. But because what may be called a kind of ‘Mystery of Golgotha’ for Mars took place, during a period when human souls are not incarnated on Earth these souls absorb, in a sphere outside the Earth, what they need for their further terrestrial existence, namely, an element of true Buddhism, which in the epoch after Christ's coming can be acquired only between death and a new birth.
We are now at the threshold of a great mystery, a mystery which has brought an impulse still operating in the evolution of mankind. Those who genuinely understand this evolution know that any truly effective influence in life on the Earth inevitably becomes part of the general stream of evolution. The event that may be called the Mystery of Golgotha on Mars was different from the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth — less powerful, less incisive, not culminating in death. But you can have some idea of it if you reflect that the Being who was the greatest Prince of Peace and Love, who was the Bringer of Compassion to the Earth, was transferred to Mars in order to work at the head of the evolution of that planet. It is no mythological fable that Mars received its name because it is the planet where the forces are involved in most bitter strife. The mission of the Buddha entailed his crucifixion in the arena of the planet where the most belligerent forces are present, although these forces are essentially of the nature of soul-and-spirit.
Here, then, we face a deed of a Being whose destiny it was as a great servant of Christ Jesus to receive and carry forward the Christ Impulse in the right way. We stand face to face with the mystery of Christian Rosenkreutz, recognizing his wisdom to have been so great that, as far as lay within his power, he incorporated into the evolution of mankind as a whole the other impulses that had been decisive factors in preparation for the Mystery of Golgotha.
A subject such as this cannot be grasped merely in terms of words or intellect; in its depth and range it must be felt — with the whole heart and soul. We must grasp what it signifies to be aware that among the forces we bring with us in the present epoch when we pass into incarnation on the Earth there are also the forces of the Buddha. Those forces were transferred to a sphere through which we pass between death and a new birth in order to enter in the right way into earthly life; for in this earthly life between birth and death it is our task to establish the right relationship to the Christ Impulse, to the Mystery of Golgotha. And this is possible only if all the impulses work together in harmony.
The Christ descended from other worlds and united with the Earth's evolution. His purpose is to give to men the greatest of all impulses with which the human soul can be endowed. But this is possible only if all the forces connected with the evolution of humanity take effect at the right point in the process of that evolution. The great Teacher of the doctrine of Nirvana, who exhorted men to liberate their souls from the urge for reincarnation, was not destined to work in the sphere of physical incarnation. But in accordance with the great Plan designed by the Gods — in which, however, men must participate because they are servants of the Gods — in accordance with this Plan, the work of that great Teacher was to continue in the life that lies in the realm beyond birth and death.
Try to feel the inner justification of this conception and in its light follow the course of evolution; then you will realize why the Buddha had necessarily to precede Christ Jesus, and how he worked after the Christ Impulse had been given. Think about this and you will understand in its true light the phase of evolution and of spiritual life which began in the seventeenth century and in which you yourselves are living; you will understand it because you will realize that before human souls pass into physical existence through birth they are imbued with the forces that bear them forward.
At the time of an important Festival, instead of a seasonal lecture I wanted to lay under the Christmas tree, as a kind of Christmas gift, certain information about Christian Rosenkreutz. Perhaps some or even many of you will receive it as was intended — as a means of strengthening the heart and the forces of the soul. We shall need this strengthening if we are to live with inner security amid the harmonies and disharmonies of existence.
If at Christmastide we can be strengthened and invigorated by consciousness of our connection with the forces of the great Universe, we may well take with us from this centre of anthroposophical work something that was laid as a gift under the Christmas tree and as an encouragement can remain a living force throughout the year if we nurture it during our life from one Christmas season to the next.