“Deeper understanding of the Gospels in the light of spiritual science is essential today, for the apathy that takes hold of people who are content to live merely within the arms of the denominations will be used to the utmost by Ahriman in order to achieve his goal — which is that his incarnation shall catch people unawares. And those who believe they are being most truly Christian by rejecting any development of the conception of the Christ mystery are, in their arrogance, the ones who do most to promote Ahriman's aims. The denominations and sects are positively spheres of encouragement, breeding-grounds, for Ahriman. It is futile to gloss these things over with illusions. Just as the materialistic attitude, rejecting the spiritual altogether and contending that the human being is a product of what people eat and drink, furthers Ahriman's aims, so are these aims furthered by the stubborn rejection of everything spiritual and adherence to the literal, ‘simple’ conception of the Gospels.
You see, a barrier which prevents a single Gospel from unduly circumscribing the human mind has been erected through the fact that the event of Golgotha is described in the Gospels from four — seemingly contradictory — sides. Only a little reflection will show that this is a protection from too literal a conception. In sects, however, where one Gospel only is taken as the basis of the teaching — and such sects are quite numerous — pitfalls, stupefaction, and hallucination are generated. In their day, the Gospels were given as a necessary counterweight to the luciferic gnosis, but if no attempt is made to develop understanding of their content, the aims of Ahriman are furthered, not the progress of humankind. In the absolute sense, nothing is good in itself, but is always good or bad according to the use to which it is put. The best can be the worst if wrongly used. Sublime though they are, the Gospels can also have the opposite effect if people are too lazy to search for a deeper understanding based on spiritual science.”
— Rudolf Steiner, from The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman
In response to the above, the core of the problem is not only a one-sided viewpoint of the Gospels. It is the inability, or rather the unwillingness and refusal, to stretch and expand one’s thinking and understanding. Rigid dogmatism and fundamentalism of any kind assuredly are tools of Ahriman regardless of the religion, philosophy, and ideology one espouses. This would also include any dogmatism and fundamentalism we find in atheism as well as among the various fields of science. It is allowing one’s thinking to turn into stone which gives Ahriman the groundwork in which to fester. This rigid calcified thinking, which is so often deeply ingrained and inevitable in dogmatism of any persuasion, roils the Living Water of our etheric bodies. In order for our etheric bodies to remain supple, our thinking must remain supple as well. It was the attempt to transmute the divine life-giving bread — i.e., Sophian Wisdom — into stone which Ahriman tried to achieve at the time of the temptations of Christ. Furthering these contemplations, Christ not only spoke of himself as the “Living Water,” he likewise referred to himself as the “Bread of Life.” It is this confluence of the Buddhic body of Christ and the Manas body of the Sophia which establishes and determines the foundation upon which Christ can refer to himself as both the Living Water and the Bread of Life. The Living Waters of our etheric bodies need to be filled with the ever-flowing all-encompassing universal Love and Wisdom of Christ and the Sophia. The dynamism of streams of spiritual life-giving Love — that is, the Living Water which emanates from Christ — gives us spiritual Life in our etheric bodies. In turn, the dynamism of streams of spiritual light-giving Wisdom — the Divine Bread which emanates from the Divine Sophia — gives us spiritual Light in our astral soul bodies.
An all-encompassing universal Love streams to us from the Buddhic body of Christ which envelops the Earth. It has converged and has become “intermingled” with the Manas body, the Wisdom body, of the Divine Sophia. This conjoining of the Christ and the Divine Sophia transpired in Galilee during the Marriage at Cana of which we read in the Gospel of John. The Christ and the Sophia enacted this holiest Holy Matrimony by means of a sacred divine rite of the highest order. In this Holy Matrimony the Buddhic body of Christ and the Manas body of the Divine Sophia coalesced as one. In the Gospel of John we read: “Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on the Gospel of John, has rendered this verse in such a fashion that “Grace and Truth” are to be understood to indicate the Buddhi and Manas respectively.
The marriage at Cana had incalculable and immeasurable eternal implications for the future evolution of all humanity. The intimation of this most lofty and profound shift in human evolution can be discerned within the prologue to John's Gospel: “. . . But to as many as received him he gave the power/authority of becoming Sons of God; to those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). If we parse the words in these two brief verses through the lens of Anthroposophy we arrive at a much different interpretation than what is commonly accepted. Interpreting the term “Son of God” we find that its meaning denotes a Manas-bearer. This is our end goal for the Earth Manvantara. We are to become Sons of God, Manas-bearers. More specifically it means the convergence of the Ego and Manas. The word “Manu” conveys to us one who has achieved Manas. When the same term, Son of God, is applied to Christ we can understand it to mean that the I AM of Christ and the Manas of Christ as a singularity defines him as a macrocosmic Manu.
The amalgamation of Christ and the Sophia marked the end of the role of blood inheritance in each individual’s spiritual evolution and advancement. The advancing evolution of humanity is now an individuated process and is no longer a matter of group inherited blood forces. Each human being is now fully responsible for his/her own spiritual unfoldment and ascension.
The coalescence of Christ and the Sophia is complemented by a third factor: the power, or what may also be termed the authority, of which we read in John 1:12-13. By means of an Anthroposophical exegesis this would denote that the seven Elohim are being addressed as well. Though we understand the Sophia to be a composite being consisting of seven beings in unison, the seven Elohim appear to have a different configuration. They are also seven beings who function separately yet in concert with one another as a whole. If we understand the Sophia to be a composite singularity this then presents to us a total of nine hierarchical beings in John's Gospel verse. These nine hierarchical beings comport with the nine aspects of the human being. From another vantage point the Elohim, the Sophia, and the Christ act as a Trinity flowing into the body, soul, and spirit of each human being respectively.
This advances us to the mystery of the term ISRAEL — a term which, in a sense, was delivered out of Egypt. In the word IS-RA-EL we find in IS the forces of Isis, the Divine Sophia; in RA, the forces of the sun Elohim; and in EL, “of God,” the Christ. The chosen people who are delivered out of Egypt are those who have come to fully integrate the Sophia, the Elohim, and the Christ within their own I AM and Manas.
We are to become Sons of God as mentioned by John in his prologue. The Sons of God are the chosen people who will become the ascending human hierarchy of Manavs. The Manavs in the Hindu tradition would be the children of a Manu. Christ is the macrocosmic Manu and we are his children. However, we as Manavs become the children of Sophia and Christ as we attain the integration of our Ego and the Manas. Thereby, we become Manavs. Throughout the course of earthly evolution the chosen people, the Manavs of IS-RA-EL, are to be delivered out of Egypt. Allegorically speaking, Egypt is overcome. This is depicted with the Woman who is clothed with the Sun/Son while the ossified Moon forces lay under her feet. It is the time when the 12 constellations will envelop the Divine Sophia. The hardened material world is transcended and a new cosmic order now prevails. An extensive Jupiter-like sphere is engendered in an astral form in place of our current solar system. Its astral rings, transcending the current Jupiter rings, i.e., the Jovian rings, will reach the limits of the 12 zodiacal constellations, the Twelve Gates of the New Jerusalem. The forces of Israel are then sealed within the Manas and Ego of each human being. The 144,000 saints mentioned in the Book of Revelation refers to humanity as a whole that has passed over to the Jupiter planetary condition. The number 1-4-4,000 is an exponential conveyance of the redeemed ninefold essence of humanity, although the Buddhic and Atman aspects would still be in germinal stages. “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of every tribe of the Children of Israel . . .” (Revelation 7:4). From out of their Holy Matrimony the Divine Sophia and the Christ have delivered newborn children.
Where can we find a simulation of the future Jupiter planetary condition? We can find it in the core center of the Earth. This is the Christic Sun-like sphere known as Shamballa. The eventual condition of the present Earth is that it and the other planets will ultimately reunite with the Sun. Christ brought to the Earth the forces of the six Elohim who reside within the spiritual sphere of the Sun. Due to these Sun-like forces, which Christ brought to the Earth and which are now within the sphere of the Earth, there is a “force of attraction” that now impels the Earth to unite with the Sun. These Sun forces which Christ brought to the Earth are sometimes termed as the Pleroma, or fullness, of Christ. Christ has brought the likeness of the Sun to the Earth and by doing so the Sun and the Earth are now induced to unite with one another since they both embody kindred forces within themselves. On a microcosmic level the same can be said concerning the relationship of each human being to Christ. Christ is the divine macrocosmic Ego. Within each of us resides our own Ego. Here again, a “force of attraction” is at work. Our microcosmic Ego is drawn to the macrocosmic Ego of the Christ. Our Ego becomes increasingly conjoined with the Ego of the Christ Being.
In a lecture from the cycle Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse, Steiner said the following: “If we try to imagine the very highest being, the one who was as highly developed at the beginning as others will be at the end of evolution, then we have the image of Christ. He was the I that was as highly developed at the beginning as the human being will be at the end.” Extrapolating these principles further we come to understand that the inner-core element of the Earth, Shamballa, eventually transfigures the Earth, our planetary solar system, and our cosmos while reaching the limits of the 12 zodiacal constellations from the inside out. The inner-core Sun element of the human being, the Ego, eventually transfigures the human form from the inside out as well. The human being becomes a diaphanous being, and the New Jerusalem extending from the core of the Earth to the boundaries of the 12 zodiacal constellations becomes a diaphanous sphere of astral light. The New Jerusalem becomes a planetary condition in which all things breathe Love. All of this then becomes a seed force that eventually detaches itself from its Mother galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy, to create and evolve a new galaxy.
Emil Bock wrote the following:
“In the outer world of the senses, the Logos has totally expressed, exhausted itself [sich erschopft]; it has reached its end. But the process of creation may now continue within humanity. The Gospel of John recounts seven signs performed by Christ. They are the prototypes of a new week of creation, the beginning of the Son's creation, issuing from the Father's completed creation. The first of these signs, performed at the wedding at Cana, marked the beginning of this creative period, but not only in its outer beginning. The Greek word used here – arche – means more than ‘beginning,’ as indicated by the Latin translation principium. So this first miracle is the principle of all seven signs. It is of principle importance that the Mother of Jesus be present here. Key to Christ's creative act, that of turning water into wine, is his conversation with his Mother. They continue on a higher level what was of such basic importance during the previous eighteen years. But now it is Mary Sophia in whose mirror Christ's creative power awakens; this is similar to the Old Testament's description of Yahweh's creation. New creation springs up through the interaction of the incarnated Logos and incarnated Sophia. The creation here begun is completed on Golgotha. The crucified Christ's last words are ‘It is accomplished’ (tetelestai) or ‘The goal has been reached.’ This goal is linked with a very particular act: The creative power of the Logos is transferred to humankind. Lazarus/John, the disciple whom the Lord loved, is standing beneath the cross as a representative of humanity. The Mother of Christ, Mary Sophia, is standing there as well. The words of the Crucified One – ‘Behold your Mother - Behold your Son’ - bring them together. Humankind now takes over the role the Christ-Logos occupied in relation to Sophia. It is we who are charged with continuing the new Creation. John takes Sophia ‘unto himself’ (eis taidia); he identifies with her and makes her wholly a part of his Being. Creative will and creative thought join to form the image of the free autonomous men and women of the future.” [Source: Threefold Mary, Emil Bock, pages 91-92]
Furthering this treatise, John applies the word name in this context as a noun. By addressing the name of Christ, John discloses to us that it refers to the macrocosmic I AM of Christ. To “believe” in the Name of Christ, the I AM of Christ, connotes and alludes to the process of assimilating within oneself the impulses of the I AM of Christ. Our Ego, our own individuated I AM essence, integrates itself with the I Am impulses that flow and stream from Christ to us. Our microcosmic Ego is the ‘image and likeness’ of the macrocosmic Ego of Christ. In all of history this may not have been better elucidated than when Christ communicated through Jehovah to Moses with these words: I AM the I AM.
Edward R. Smith writes that the burning bush is a symbol of one’s Ego. As Moses ascended in consciousness to the awareness of his own Ego, he was then capable of experiencing the verity of the World I AM. He experienced the revelation of Christ in the words I AM the I AM. This is the creative activity of cosmic, living, spiritual thought that truly pervades everything in the cosmos. The cosmic I AM element came into Moses' consciousness because he was now in a relationship with the Christ I AM due to experiencing and being fully conscious of his own I AM. For Moses, all of nature was now alive with the activity of the Cosmic I AM element.
For example, during such an experience one no longer sees in nature a rose only, which is, in a manner of speaking, merely a shell of its true reality. One sees the living rose with its etheric form and universal astral element while also experiencing in one’s own spiritualized thinking the living, spiritual thought that is in the creation of the rose. One then comes into contact with Beings in Devachan who create the living, spiritual archetype for the rose. This level of thinking activity is the work that recreates the world and eventually raises the Earth and ourselves into the etheric, astral, and devachanic realms. Our thoughts literally do create the world around us. Spiritualized thinking, a devachanic consciousness, will dissolve the dead, mineral matter into cosmic dust and will raise the Earth and this planetary system to higher realms. We then become co-workers with Christ and the Sophia in the entire Resurrection and Ascension processes that eventually bring us to the next condition of form: the astral condition. This astral condition of form will be the germinal seed for the far distant Jupiter planetary condition, the “ New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2).
In addition, pain and suffering are the seeds of the forces of Wisdom and Love that imbue the Earth with soul impulses that are creating the future New Jerusalem. Over the millennia humanity has endured pain and suffering on a scale of which we can hardly begin to comprehend. By understanding pain and suffering as soul forces that convert to world Wisdom and Love within the Earth’s etheric/astral sphere, it is reasonable to assert that humanity has long been in the process of creating the New Jerusalem. This gives us a greater insight into the purpose and meaning of pain and suffering. Looking about the world on a daily basis the pain and suffering that humanity endures through every moment is inconceivable for any one human to truly behold. Yet, it is this pain and suffering that is fashioning the New Jerusalem.
The ageless and endless inquiries addressing the suffering of humanity's long earthly journey are finally answered by means of the purview of Anthroposophical acuity. Human wisdom is founded upon pain, suffering, and heartache. This may be difficult to accept, but there is a truth to this that does have pronounced esoteric implications. Moreover, this truth is centered in the development of the human Ego. According to Rudolf Steiner, a child does not begin to truly refer to him/her self as an individuated Being until approximately at the age of three. In addition, this is only the beginning of the process of assimilating the Ego. Full recognition of the Ego is not completed until the ages of 21 through 42, after which the Ego then begins to withdraw over time. Between the day of birth and three years of age a child will bump its head many times, will fall to the ground often, will scrape a knee a few times over, and so on. Each time an incident of pain and suffering occurs the soul is able to draw the Ego further into the soul's sheath, and so with each painful incident the child begins to understand with greater clarity that he/she is a separate individual from the surrounding world. Viewing this from a macrocosmic level the same overall principle may be applied to the suffering of the ever-maturing hierarchy which we recognize as humanity. The entirety of human pain, suffering, and heartache leads to a World Wisdom. It is this macro-soul element of World Wisdom which comprises the earthly body of the Divine Sophia. The Divine Sophia is then able to draw into her sheaths the essence of the World Ego, the Sun-filled Christ Being. The Jupiter Manvantara, the New Jerusalem, is being fashioned from this sheath of World Wisdom. And from World Wisdom comes World Love. Moreover, the marriage at Cana is being elevated to the greatest heights because of it. In the Book of Revelation, Lazarus-John describes all of this in majestic archetypal imagery: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the Sun, and the Moon was under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child she cried out in her travail and was in the anguish of delivery" (Revelation 12:1-2).
Wisdom is the foundation of Love; Love is built upon Wisdom. The Moon Manvantara was the planetary condition in which Wisdom was imbued with all that the future Earth condition would hold. From this Wisdom that permeates all of the Earth condition, Love is granted its basis of gestation. Thereby, what we find in the greater scheme of evolution we also find within our own individual evolution. We arrive at Love through Wisdom. It is in the attainment of devachanic consciousness that we really begin to experience Wisdom. The unfettered truth(s) of an experience flows into our Ego, our “image and likeness” principle. The greater the capacity of our own Being to assimilate the seemingly endless stream and multiple levels of truth of any situation/phenomenon, the greater the depth and breadth of Wisdom we are able to discern. It is a Wisdom that is free from sympathies and antipathies. It is a Wisdom that stands on its own regardless of any biases. For here, in one’s capacity to attain devachanic consciousness, biases are overridden by the unbiased truth(s). Multiple upon multiple aspects and levels of truth become available to one’s awareness. Understanding and discernment are exceedingly enhanced. It is then in this broader, wider, and deeper understanding that we are able to express Love that is not of an emotional manifestation. Rather, one’s devachanic consciousness of the truth(s) raises one’s level of judgment. One begins to become united with that which one understands. And in this oneness a quality of Love is found that was previously absent. In the height of devachanic cognizance we maintain our individuality but we also attain a macro-perspective well beyond our own selves. These micro- and macro-perspectives are the Son of Man consciousness and the Son of God consciousness respectively. This is where Wisdom and Love coalesce into a singularity of human thinking. This is the marriage of Cana where the Sophia and the Christ unite.
Copyright © 2012 by Richard Distasi. Reprinted with the permission of Rick Distasi.