|"The return of the prodigal son" by Rembrandt|
The Bhagavad Gita and the Epistles of Paul. Lecture 5 of 5.
A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner on New Year's Day, 1913 — 100 years ago today:
During this course of lectures we have brought before our souls two remarkable documents of humanity, although necessarily described very briefly on account of the limited number of lectures; and we have seen what impulses had to flow into the evolution of mankind in order that these two significant documents, the sublime Gita and the Epistles of St. Paul, might come into existence. What is important for us to grasp is the essential difference between the whole spirit of the Gita and that of the Epistles of St. Paul. As we have already said: in the Gita we have the teachings that Krishna was able to give to his pupil Arjuna. Such teachings can only be given and should only be given to one person individually, for they are in reality exactly what they appear in the Gita: teachings of an intimate nature. On the other hand, it may be said that they are now within the reach of anyone, because they appear in the Gita. This naturally was not the case at the time the Gita was composed. They did not then reach all ears; they were then only communicated by word of mouth. In those old days teachers were careful to ascertain the maturity of the pupil to whom they were about to communicate such teachings; they always made sure of his being ready for them. In our time this is no longer possible as regards all the teachings and instructions which have in some way come openly to light. We are living in an age in which the spiritual life is in a certain sense public. Not that there is no longer any occult science in our day, but it cannot be considered occult simply because it is not printed or spread abroad. There is plenty of occult science even in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte, for instance, although everyone can procure it in printed form, is really a secret teaching; and finally Hegel's philosophy is also a secret doctrine, for it is very little known and has indeed many reasons in it for remaining a secret teaching; and this is the case with many things in our day. The scientific teaching of Fichte and the philosophy of Hegel have a very simple method of remaining secret doctrine, in that they are written in such a way that most people do not understand them, and fall asleep if they read the first pages. In that way the subject itself remains a secret doctrine, and this is the case in our own age with a great deal which many people think they know. They do not know it; thus these things remain secret doctrine; and, in reality, such things as are to be found in the Gita also remain secret doctrine, although they may be made known in the widest circles by means of printing. For while one person who takes up the Gita today sees in it great and mighty revelations about the evolution of man's own inner being, another will only see in it an interesting poem; to him all the perceptions and feelings expressed in the Gita are mere trivialities. For let no one think that he has really made what is in the Gita his own, although he may be able to express in the words of the Gita itself what is contained in it, but which may itself be far removed from his comprehension. Thus the greatness of the subject itself is in many respects a protection against its becoming common. What is certain is that the teachings which are poetically worked out in the Gita are such that each one must follow, must experience, them for himself, if through them he wishes to rise in his soul and finally experience the meeting with the Lord of Yoga, with Krishna. It is therefore an individual matter; something which the great Teacher addresses to one individual alone.
It is a different thing when we consider the contents of the Epistles of St. Paul from this point of view. There we see that all is for the community, all is matter appealing to the many. For if we fix our attention upon the innermost core of the essence of the Krishna-teaching we must say: What one experiences through this teaching, one experiences for oneself alone, in the strictest seclusion of one's own soul, and one can only have the meeting with Krishna as a lonely soul-wanderer, after one has found the way back to the original revelations and experiences of mankind. That which Krishna can give must be given to each individual.
This is not the case with the revelation given to the world through the Christ Impulse. From the beginning the Christ Impulse was intended for all humanity, and the Mystery of Golgotha was not consummated as an act for the individual soul alone; but we must think of the whole of mankind from the very beginning to the very end of the Earth's evolution, and realize that what happened at Golgotha was for all humans. It is to the greatest possible extent a matter for the community in general. Therefore the style of the Epistles of St. Paul, apart from all that has already been characterized, must be quite different from the style of the sublime Gita.
Let us once more picture clearly the relationship between Krishna and Arjuna. He gives his pupil unequivocal directions as Lord of Yoga as to how he can rise in his soul in order to attain the vision of Krishna. Let us compare with this an especially pregnant passage in the Pauline Epistles, in which a community turns to St. Paul and asks him whether this or that was true, whether this could be considered as giving the right views about what he had taught. In the instructions which St. Paul gives we find a passage which may certainly be compared in greatness, even in artistic style, with what we find in the sublime Gita; but at the same time we find quite a different tone, we find everything spoken from quite a different soul-feeling. It is where St. Paul writes to the Corinthians of how the different human gifts to be found in a group of people must work in cooperation. To Arjuna, Krishna says “Thou must be so and so, thou must do this or that, then wilt thou rise stage by stage in thy soul-life.” To his Corinthians St. Paul says: “One of you has this gift, another that, a third another; and if these work harmoniously together, as do the members of the human body, the result is spiritually a whole which can be permeated with the Christ.” Thus through the subject itself St. Paul addresses himself to men who work together, that is to say, to a multitude; and he uses an important opportunity to do this: namely, when the gift of the so-called speaking with tongues comes under consideration.
What is this speaking with tongues that we find spoken of in St. Paul's Epistles? It is neither more nor less than a survival of old spiritual gifts, which, in a renewed way, but with full human consciousness, confront us again at the present time. For when, among our initiation methods, we speak of Inspiration, it is understood that a man who attains to Inspiration in our age does so with a clear consciousness; just as he brings a clear consciousness to bear upon his powers of understanding and his sensory realizations. But in olden times this was different; then such a man spoke as an instrument of high spiritual beings who made use of his organs to express higher things through his speech. He might sometimes say things which he himself could not understand at all. Thus revelations from the spiritual worlds were given which were not necessarily understood by him who was used as an instrument — and just that was the case in Corinth. The situation had there arisen of a number of persons having this gift of tongues. They were then able to make this or that prediction from the spiritual worlds. Now, when a man possesses such gifts everything he is able to reveal by their means is under all circumstances a revelation from the spiritual world, yet it may nevertheless be the case that one man may say this and another that, for spiritual sources are manifold, One may be inspired from one source and another from another, and thus it may happen that the revelations do not correspond. Complete harmony can be found only when these worlds are entered in full consciousness. Therefore St. Paul gives the following admonition: “Some there are who can speak with tongues, others who can interpret the words spoken. They should work together as do the right and left hands, and we should not only listen to those who speak with tongues but also to those who have not that gift but who can expound and understand what someone is able to bring down from the spiritual sphere.” Here again St. Paul was urging the question of a community which might be founded through the united working of men. In connection with this very speaking with tongues St. Paul gave that address which, as I have said, is in certain respects so wonderful that in its might it may well compare, though in a different way, with the revelations of the Gita. He says (1 Cor. 12:3-31): “As regards the spiritually gifted brethren, I will not leave you without instructions. You know that in the time of your heathendom it was to dumb idols that you were blindly led by desire. Wherefore I make clear to you: that just as little as one speaking in the Spirit of God says: Accursed be Jesus; so little can a man call Him Lord but through the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gracious gifts, but there is one Spirit. There are diversities in the guidance of mankind, but there is one Lord. There are differences in the force which individual men possess; but there is one God Who works in all these forces. But to every man is given the manifestation of the Spirit, as much as he can profit by it. So to one is given the word of prophecy, to another the word of knowledge; others are spirits who live in faith; again others have the gift of healing, others the gift of prophecy, others have the gift of seeing into men's characters, others that of speaking different tongues, and to others again is given the interpretation of tongues; but in all these worketh one and the same Spirit, apportioning to each one what is due to him. For as the body is one and hath many members, yet all the members together form one body, so also is it with Christ. For through the Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, and have all been imbued with one spirit; so also the body is not made of one but of many members. If the foot were to say: Because I am not the hand therefore I do not belong to the body, it would nonetheless belong to it. And if the ear were to say: Because I am not the eye I do not belong to the body, nonetheless does it belong to the body. If the whole body were only an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole body were a sense of hearing, where would be the power of smell? But now hath God set each one of the members in the body where it seemed good to Him. If there were only one member, where would the body be? But now there are truly many members, but there is only one body. The eye may not say to the hand: I do not require thee! nor the head to the feet: I have no need of you; rather those which appear to be the feeble members of the body are necessary, and those which we consider mean prove themselves to be especially important. God has put the body together and has recognized the importance of the unimportant members that there should be no division in the body, but that all the members should work harmoniously together and should care for one another. And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, and if one member prosper, all the members rejoice with it. But ye,” said St. Paul to his Corinthians, “are the Body of Christ, and are severally the members thereof. And some God hath set in the community as apostles, others as prophets, a third part as teachers, a fourth as miraculous healers, a fifth for other activities in helping, a sixth for the administration of the community, and a seventh He set aside to speak with tongues. Shall all men be prophets, shall all men be apostles, shall all be teachers, all healers, shall all speak with tongues, or shall all interpret? Therefore it is right for all the gifts to work together, but the more numerous they are the better.”
Then Paul speaks of the force that can prevail in the individual but also in the community, and that holds all the separate members together, as the strength of the body holds the separate members of the body together. Krishna says nothing more beautiful to one man than St. Paul spoke to humanity in its different members. Then he speaks of the Christ Power, which holds the different members together just as the body holds its different members together; and the force that can live in one individual as the life-force in every one of his limbs, and yet lives also in a whole community; that is described by St. Paul in powerful words: “Nevertheless I will show you,” says he, “the way that is higher than all else. If I could speak with tongues of men of or angels and have not love, my speech is but as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal; and if I could prophesy and reveal all secrets and communicate all the knowledge in the world, and if I had all the faith that could remove mountains themselves and had not love, it would all be nothing. And if I distributed every spiritual gift, yea, if I gave my body itself to be burnt, but were lacking in love, it would all be in vain. Love endures ever. Love is kind. Love knows not envy. Love knows not boasting, knows not pride. Love injures not what is decorous, seeks not her own advantage, does not let herself be provoked, bears no one any malice, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices only in truth. Love envelops all, streams through all beliefs, hopes all things, practices toleration everywhere. Love, if it exists, can never be lost. Prophesies vanish when they are fulfilled; what is spoken with tongues ceases when it can no longer speak to human hearts; what is known ceases when the subject of knowledge is exhausted; for we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away with. When I was a child I spoke as a child, I felt as a child; when I became a man, the world of childhood was past. Now we only see dark outlines in a mirror, but then we shall see the spirit face to face; now is my knowledge in part, but then I shall know completely, even as I myself am known. Now abides Faith, the certainty of Hope, and Love; but Love is the greatest of these, hence Love is above all. For if you could have all spiritual gifts, whoever himself understands prophecy must also strive after love; for whoever speaks with tongues speaks not among men, he speaks among Gods. No one understands him, because in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” We see how St. Paul understands the nature of speaking with tongues. His meaning is: The speaker with tongues is transported into the spiritual worlds; he speaks among Gods. Whoever prophesies speaks to men to build up, to warn, to comfort; he who speaks with tongues, to a certain extent satisfies himself; he who prophesies builds up the community. If you all attain to speaking with tongues, it is yet more important that you should prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, for he who speaks with tongues must first understand his own speaking, in order that the community should do so. Supposing that I came to you as a speaker with tongues; of what use should I be to you if I did not tell you what my speaking signifies as prophecy, teaching, and revelation? My speaking would be like a flute or a zither of which one could not clearly distinguish the sounds. How could one distinguish the playing of either the zither or of the flute if they did not give forth distinct sounds? And if the trumpet gave forth an indistinct sound, who would arm himself to battle? So it is with you; if you cannot connect a distinct language with the tongue-speaking, it is all merely spoken into the air.
All this shows us that the different spiritual gifts must be divided among the community, and that the members as individuals must work together. With this we come to the point at which the revelation of Paul, through the moment in human evolution in which it appears, must differ absolutely from that of Krishna. The Krishna revelation is directed to one individual, but in reality applies to every man if he is ripe to tread the upward path prescribed to him by the Lord of Yoga; we are more and more reminded of the primeval ages of mankind, to which we always, according to the Krishna teaching, return in spirit. At that time men were less individualized; one could assume that for each man the same teaching and directions would be suitable. St. Paul confronted mankind when individuals were becoming differentiated, when they really had to become differentiated, each one with his special capacity, his own special gift. One could then no longer reckon on being able to pour the same thing into each different soul; one had then to point to that which is invisible and rules over all. This, which lives in no man as a separate individual, although it may be within each one, is the Christ Impulse. The Christ Impulse, again, is something like a new group soul of humanity, but one that must be consciously sought for by men.
To make this clearer, let us picture to ourselves how, for instance, a number of Krishna students are to be distinguished in the spiritual worlds from a number of those who have been moved in the deepest part of their being by the Christ Impulse. The Krishna pupils have every one of them been stirred by one and the same impulse, which has been given them by the Lord of Yoga. In spiritual life each one of these is like the other. The same instructions have been given to them all. But those who have been moved by the Christ Impulse are each, when disembodied and in the spiritual world, possessed of their own particular individuality, their own distinct spiritual forces. Therefore even in the spiritual world one man may go in one direction and one in another; and the leader of both, the One Who pours Himself into the soul of each one, no matter how individualized he may be, is the Christ, Who is in the soul of each one and at the same time soars above them all. So we still have a differentiated community even when the souls are discarnate; while the souls of the Krishna pupils, when they have received instructions from the Lord of Yoga, are as one unit. The object of human evolution, however, is that souls should become more and more differentiated.
Therefore it was necessary that Krishna should speak in a different way. He really speaks to his pupils just as he does in the Gita. But St. Paul must speak differently. He really speaks to each individual, and it is a question of individual development whether, according to the degree of his maturity, a man remains at a certain stage of his incarnation at a standstill in exoteric life, or whether he is able to enter the esoteric life and raise himself into esoteric Christianity. We can go further and further in the Christian life and attain the utmost esoteric heights; but we must start from something different from what we start from in the Krishna teaching. In the Krishna teaching you start from the point you have reached as man, and raise the soul individually, as a separate being; in Christianity, before you attempt to go further along the path you must have gained a connection with the Christ Impulse, feeling in the first place that this transcends all else. The spiritual path to Krishna can only be trodden by one who receives instructions from Krishna; the spiritual path to Christ can be trodden by anyone, for Christ brought the mystery for all men who feel drawn toward it. That, however, is something external, accomplished on the physical plane; the first step is, therefore, taken on the physical plane. That is the essential thing.
Truly one need not, if one looks into the world-historical importance of the Christ Impulse, begin by belonging to this or that Christian denomination; on the contrary one can, just in our time, even start from an anti-Christian standpoint, or from one of indifference toward Christ. Yet if one goes deeply into the spiritual life of our own age, examining the contradictions and follies of materialism, perhaps one may genuinely be led to Christ even though to begin with one may not have belonged to any particular creed. Therefore when it is said outside our circle that we are starting from a peculiar Christian denomination, this must be regarded as a special calumny; for it is not a matter of starting from any denomination, but that in response to the demands of the spiritual life itself, everyone, be he Muslim or Buddhist, Jew or Hindu, or Christian, shall be able to understand the Christ Impulse in its whole significance for the evolution of mankind. This desire we can see deeply penetrating the whole view and presentation of St. Paul, and in this respect he is absolutely the one who sets the tone for the first proclamation of the Christ Impulse to the world.
As we have described how Sankhya philosophy concerns itself with the changing forms, with that which appertains to Prakriti, we may also say that St. Paul, in all that underlies his profound Epistles, deals with Purusha, that which pertains to the soul. What the soul is to become, the destiny of the soul, how throughout the whole evolution of mankind it evolves in manifold ways, concerning all this St. Paul gives us quite definite and profound conclusions.
There is a fundamental difference between what Eastern thought was still able to give us and what we find at once with such wonderful clearness in St. Paul. We pointed out yesterday that, according to Krishna, everything depended on man's finding his way out of the changing forms. But Prakriti remains outside, as something foreign to the soul. All the striving in this Eastern method of development and even in the Eastern initiation tends to free one from material existence, from that which is spread outside in nature; for that, according to the Veda philosophy, is merely maya. Everything external is maya, and to be free from maya is Yoga. We have pointed out how in the Gita it is expected of man that he shall become free from all he does and accomplishes, from what he wills and thinks, from what he likes and enjoys, and in his soul shall triumph over everything external. The work that man accomplishes should equally fall away from him, and thus resting within himself, he shall find satisfaction. Thus he who wishes to develop according to the Krishna teaching aspires to become something like a Paramahansa, that is to say, a high initiate who leaves all material existence behind him, who triumphs over all he has himself accomplished by his actions in this world of sense, and lives a purely spiritual existence, having so overcome what belongs to the senses that he no longer thirsts for reincarnation, that he has nothing more to do with what filled his life and at which he worked in this sense-world. Thus it is the issuing forth from this maya, the triumphing over it, which meets us everywhere in the Gita.
With St. Paul it is not so. If he had met with these Eastern teachings, something in the depth of his soul would have caused the following words to come forth: “Yes, thou wishest to rise above all that surrounds thee outside, from that also which thou formerly accomplished there! Dost thou wish to leave all that behind thee? Is not then all that the work of God, is not everything above which thou wishest to lift thyself created by the Divine Spirit? In despising that, art thou not despising the work of God? Does not the revelation of God's Spirit dwell everywhere within it? Didst thou not at first seek to represent God in thine own work, in love and faith and devotion, and now desirest thou to triumph over what is the work of God?”
It would be well, my dear friends, if we were to inscribe these words of St. Paul — which though unspoken were felt in the depths of his soul — deeply into our own souls; for they express an important part of what we know as Western revelation. In the Pauline sense, we too speak of the maya which surrounds us. We certainly say: We are surrounded by maya. But we also say: Is there not spiritual revelation in this maya, is it not all divine spiritual work? Is it not blasphemy to fail to understand that there is divine spiritual work in all things?
Now arises the other question: Why is that maya there? Why do we see maya around us? The West does not stop at the question as to whether all is maya: it inquires as to the wherefore of maya. Then follows an answer that leads us into the center of the soul — into Purusha. Because the soul once came under the power of Lucifer it sees everything through the veil of maya and spreads the veil of maya over everything. Is it the fault of objectivity that we see maya? No. To us as souls objectivity would appear in all its truth if we had not come under the power of Lucifer. It only appears to us as maya because we are not capable of seeing down into the foundations of what is spread out there. That comes from the soul's having come under the power of Lucifer; it is not the fault of the Gods, it is the fault of our own soul. Thou, O soul, hast made the world a maya to thyself, because thou hast fallen into the power of Lucifer.
From the highest spiritual grasp of this formula, down to the words of Goethe: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives,” is one straight line. The Philistines and zealots may fight against Goethe and his Christianity as much as they like; he might nevertheless say that he is one of the most Christian of men, for in the depths of his being he thought as a Christian, even in that very formula: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives.” It is the soul's own fault that what it sees appears as maya and not as truth. So that which in Orientalism appears simply as an act of the Gods themselves is diverted into the depths of the human soul, where the great struggle with Lucifer takes place.
Thus Orientalism, if we consider it aright, is in a certain sense materialism, in that it does not recognize the spirituality of maya, and wishes to rise above matter. That which pulses through the Epistles of St. Paul is a doctrine of the soul, although only existing in germ and therefore capable of being so mistaken and misunderstood as in our Tamas-time, but it will in the future be visibly spread out over the whole Earth. This, concerning the peculiar nature of maya, will have to be understood; for only then can one understand the full depth of that which is the object of the progress of human evolution. Then only does one understand what St. Paul means when he speaks of the first Adam, who succumbed to Lucifer in his soul, and who was therefore more and more entangled in matter — which means nothing else than this: ensnared in a false experiencing of matter. As God's creation, external matter is good: what takes place there is good. But what the soul experiences in the course of human evolution became more and more evil, because in the beginning the soul fell into the power of Lucifer.
Therefore St. Paul called Christ the Second Adam, for He came into the world untempted by Lucifer, and therefore He can be a guide and friend to men's souls, who can lead them away from Lucifer, that is, into the right relationship to Him. St. Paul could not tell mankind at that time all that he as an initiate knew; but if we allow his Epistles to work on us we shall see that there is more in their depths than they express externally. That is because St. Paul spoke to a community, and had to reckon with the understanding of that community. That is why in certain of his Epistles there seem to be absolute contradictions. But one who can plunge down into the depths finds everywhere the impulse of the Christ Being.
Let us here remember, my dear friends, how we ourselves have represented the coming into existence of the Mystery of Golgotha. As time went on we recognized that there were two different stories of the youth, of Christ Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, because in reality there are two Jesus boys in question. We have seen that externally — after the flesh, according to St. Paul, which means through physical descent — both Jesus boys descended from the stock of David; that one came from the line of Nathan and the other from that of Solomon; that thus there were two Jesus boys born at about the same time. In the one Jesus child, that of St. Matthew's Gospel, we find Zarathustra reincarnated: and we have emphatically stated that in the other Jesus child, the one described by St. Luke, there was no such human ego as is usually to be found, and certainly not as the one existing in the other Jesus child, in whom lived such a highly evolved ego as that of Zarathustra. In the Luke Jesus there actually lives that part of man that has not entered into human evolution on the Earth. [See also Steiner's The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind; The Gospel of St. Luke; The Gospel of St. Matthew.]
It is rather difficult to form a right conception of this, but we must just try to think how, so to speak, the soul that was incarnated in Adam, he who may be described as Adam in the sense of my book Occult Science, succumbed to Lucifer's temptation, symbolically described in the Bible as the Fall of Man in Paradise. We must picture this. Then we must picture further that side by side with that human soul nature which incarnated in Adam's body there was a human part, a human being, that remained behind and did not then incarnate, that did not enter a physical body, but remained “pure soul.” You need only now picture how, before a physical man arose in the evolution of humanity, there was one soul, which then divided itself into two parts. The one part, the one descendant of the common soul, incarnated in Adam and thus entered into the line of incarnations, succumbed to Lucifer, and so on. As to the other soul, the sister-soul, as it were, the wise rulers of the world saw beforehand that it would not be good that this too should be embodied; it was kept back in the soul world; it did not therefore take part in the incarnations of humanity, but was kept back. With this soul none but the initiates of the Mysteries had intercourse.
During the evolution preceding the Mystery of Golgotha this soul did not, therefore, take into itself the experience of an ego, for this can only be obtained by incarnating in a human body. Nonetheless, it had all the wisdom that could have been attained through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, it possessed all the love of which a human soul is capable. This soul remained blameless, as it were, of all the guilt that a man can acquire in the course of his incarnations in human evolution. It could not be met with as a human being externally; but it could be perceived by the old clairvoyants, and was recognized by them; they encountered it, so to say, in the Mysteries. Thus, here we have a soul, one might say, that was within, but yet above, the evolution of mankind, that could at first only be perceived in the spirit; a pre-man, a true super-man.
It was this soul which, instead of an ego, was incarnated in the Jesus child of St. Luke's Gospel. You will remember the lectures at Basle; this fact was already given out there. We have therefore to do with a soul that is only ego-like, one that naturally acts as an ego when it permeates the body of Jesus, but which in all it displays is yet quite different from an ordinary ego. I have already mentioned the fact that the boy of St. Luke's Gospel spoke a language understood by his mother as soon as he came into the world, and other facts of similar nature were to he observed in him.
Then we know that the Matthew Jesus, in whom lived the Zarathustra ego, grew up until his twelfth year, and the Luke child also grew up, possessing no particular human knowledge or science, but bearing the divine wisdom and the divine power of sacrifice within him. Thus the Luke Jesus grew up not being particularly gifted for what can be learnt externally. We know further that the body of the Matthew Jesus was forsaken by the Zarathustra ego, and that in the twelfth year of the Luke Jesus his body was taken possession of by that same Zarathustra ego. That is the moment referred to when it is related of the twelve-year-old Jesus of Luke's Gospel that when his parents lost him he stood teaching before the wise men of the Temple.
We know further that this Luke Jesus bore the Zarathustra ego within him up to his thirtieth year; that the Zarathustra ego then left the body of the Luke Jesus, and all its sheaths were taken possession of by Christ, a superhuman being of the higher Hierarchies, Who only could live in a human body at all inasmuch as a body was offered Him which had first been permeated up to its twelfth year with the pre-human Wisdom-forces, and the pre-human divine Love-forces, and was then permeated through and through by all that the Zarathustra ego had acquired through many incarnations by means of initiation. In no other way, perhaps, could one so well obtain the right respect, the right reverence — in short, the right feeling altogether — for the Christ Being as by trying to understand what sort of a body was needed for this Christ Ego to be able to enter humanity at all.
Many people consider that in this presentation, given out of the holy Mysteries of the newer age about the Christ Being, He is thus made to appear less intimate and human than the Christ Jesus so many have honored in the way in which He is generally represented — familiar, near to man, incarnate in an ordinary human body in which nothing like a Zarathustra ego lived. It is brought as a reproach against our teaching that Christ Jesus is here represented as composed of forces drawn from all regions of the cosmos.
Such reproaches proceed only from the indolence of human perception and human feeling which is unwilling to raise itself to the true heights of perception and feeling. The greatest of all must be so grasped by us that our souls have to make the supremest possible efforts to attain the inner intensity of perception and feeling necessary to bring the Greatest, the Highest, at all near to our soul. Our first feelings will thus be raised higher still, if we do but consider them in this light.
We know one other thing besides. We know how we have to understand the words of the Gospel: “Divine forces are being revealed in the Heights, and peace will spread among men of goodwill.” We know that this message of peace and love resounded when the Luke Jesus appeared, because Buddha intermingled with the astral body of the Luke Jesus; Buddha, who had already lived in a being who went through his last incarnation as Gautama Buddha and had risen to complete spirituality. So that in the astral body of the Luke Jesus, Buddha revealed himself, as he had progressed up to the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth.
Thus we have the Being of Christ Jesus presented before us in a way only now possible to mankind from the basis of occult science. St. Paul, although an initiate, was compelled to speak in concepts more easily understood at that time; he could not then have assumed a humanity able to understand such concepts as we have brought before your hearts today. His inspiration, however, was derived from his initiation, which came about as an act of grace. Because he did not attain this through regular schooling in the old Mysteries, but by grace on the road to Damascus when the risen Christ appeared to him, therefore I call this initiation one brought about by grace. But he experienced this Damascus Vision in such a way that by means of it he knew that He Who arose in the Mystery of Golgotha lives in the sphere of this Earth and has been attached to it since that Event. He recognized the risen Christ. From that time on he proclaimed Him.
Why was he able to see Him in the particular way he did? At this point we must enter somewhat into the nature of such a vision, such a manifestation, as that of Damascus: for it was a vision, a manifestation, of a quite peculiar kind. Only those people who never wish to learn anything of occult facts consider all visions as being of one kind. They will not distinguish such an occurrence as the vision of St. Paul from many other visions such as appeared to the saints later. What really was the reason that St. Paul could recognize Christ as he did when He appeared to him on the way to Damascus? Why did the certain conviction come to him that this was the risen Christ? This question leads us back to another one: What was necessary in order that the whole Christ Being should be able completely to enter into Jesus of Nazareth, at the baptism by John in the Jordan? Now, we have just said what was necessary to prepare the body into which the Christ Being could descend. But what was necessary in order that the Arisen One could appear in such a densified soul form as he appeared in to St. Paul? What, then, so to speak, was that halo of light in which Christ appeared to St. Paul before Damascus? What was it? Whence was it taken?
If we wish to answer these questions, my dear friends, we must add a few finishing touches to what I have already said. I have told you that there was, as it were, a sister-soul to the Adam-soul, to that soul which entered into the sequence of human generations. This sister-soul remained in the soul world. It was this sister-soul that was incarnated in the Luke Jesus.
But it was not then incarnated for the first time in a human body in the strictest sense of the words: it had already been once incarnated prophetically. This soul had already been made use of formerly as a messenger of the holy Mysteries; it was, so to say, cherished and cultivated in the Mysteries, and was sent whenever anything specially important to man was taking place; but it could only appear as a vision in the etheric body, and could only be perceived, strictly speaking, as long as the old clairvoyance remained. In earlier ages that still existed. Therefore this old sister-soul of Adam had no need at that time to descend as far as the physical body in order to be seen. So it actually appeared on Earth repeatedly in human evolution: sent forth by the impulses of the Mysteries at all times when important things were to take place in the evolution of the Earth; but it did not require to incarnate in ancient times, because clairvoyance was there.
The first time it needed to incarnate was when the old clairvoyance was to be overcome through the transition of human evolution from the third to the fourth post-Atlantean age, of which we spoke yesterday. Then, by way of compensation, it took on an incarnation, in order to be able to express itself at the time when clairvoyance no longer existed. The only time this sister-soul of Adam was compelled to appear and to become physically visible, it was incorporated, so to speak, in Krishna; and then it was incorporated again in the Luke Jesus.
So now we can understand how it was that Krishna spoke in such a superhuman manner, why he is the best teacher for the human ego, why he represents, so to speak, a victory over the ego, why he appears so psychically sublime. It is because he appears as human being at that sublime moment which we brought before our souls in the lecture before last, as Man not yet descended into human incarnations. He then appears again, to be embodied in the Luke Jesus.
Hence that perfection that came about when the most significant world-conceptions of Asia, the ego of Zarathustra and the spirit of Krishna, were united in the twelve-year-old Jesus described by St. Luke. He who spoke to the learned men in the Temple was therefore not only Zarathustra speaking as an ego, but one who spoke from those sources from which Krishna at one time drew Yoga; he spoke of Yoga raised a stage higher; he united himself with the Krishna force, with Krishna himself, in order to continue to grow until his thirtieth year. Then only have we that complete, perfected body which could be taken possession of by the Christ. Thus do the spiritual currents of humanity flow together. So that in what happened at the Mystery of Golgotha we really have a cooperation of the most important leaders of mankind, a synthesis of spirit-life.
When St. Paul had his vision before Damascus, He Who appeared to him then was the Christ. The halo of light in which Christ was enveloped was Krishna. And because Christ has taken Krishna for His own soul-covering through which He then works on further, therefore in the light which shone there, in Christ Himself, there is all that was once upon a time contained in the sublime Gita. We find much of that old Krishna-teaching, although scattered about, in the New Testament revelations.
This old Krishna-teaching has on that account become a personal matter to the whole of mankind, because Christ is not as such a human ego belonging to mankind, but to the Higher Hierarchies. Thus Christ belongs also to those times when man was not yet separated from that which now surrounds him as material existence, and which is veiled to him in maya through his own Luciferic temptation. If we glance back over the whole of evolution we shall find that in those olden times there was not yet that strict division between the spiritual and the material; material was then still spiritual, and the spiritual — if we may say so — still manifested itself externally. Thus because in the Christ Impulse something entered into mankind which completely prevented such a strict separation as we find in Sankhya philosophy between Purusha and Prakriti, Christ becomes the Leader of men out of themselves and toward the divine creation.
Must we then say that we must unconditionally give up maya now that we recognize that it seems to be given us through our own fault? No, for that would be blaspheming the spirit in the world; that would be assigning to matter properties which we ourselves have imposed upon it with the veil of maya. Let us rather hope that when we have overcome in ourselves that which caused matter to become maya, we may again be reconciled with the world.
For do we not hear resounding out of the world around us that it is a creation of the Elohim, and that on the last day of creation they considered: And behold, all was very good? That would be the karma to be fulfilled if there were nothing but Krishna-teaching (for there is nothing in the world that does not fulfil its karma). If in all eternity there had been only the teaching of Krishna, then the material existence which surrounds us, the manifestation of God of which the Elohim at the starting-point of evolution said: “Behold all was very good,” would encounter the judgment of men: “It is not good, I must abandon it!” The judgment of man would be placed above the judgment of God. We must learn to understand the words which stand as a mystery at the outset of evolution; we must not set the judgment of man above the judgment of God. If all and everything that could cling to us in the way of guilt were to fall away from us, and yet that one fault remained, that we slandered the work of the Elohim, the Earth-karma would have to be fulfilled; in the future everything would have to fall upon us and karma would have to fulfil itself thus.
In order that this should not happen, Christ appeared in the world, so to reconcile us with the world that we may learn to overcome Lucifer's tempting forces, and learn to penetrate the veil; that we may see the divine revelation in its true form; that we may find the Christ as the Reconciler, Who will lead us to the true form of the divine revelation, so that through Him we may learn to understand the primeval words: “And behold, it is very good.” In order that we may learn to ascribe to ourselves that which we may never again dare to ascribe to the world, we need Christ; for if all our other sins could be taken away from us, yet this sin could be removed only by Him. This, transformed into a moral feeling, is a newer side of the Christ Impulse. It shows us at the same time why the necessity arose for the Christ Impulse as the higher soul to envelop itself in the Krishna Impulse.
An exposition such as I have given you in this course, my dear friends, should not be taken as mere theory, merely as a number of thoughts and ideas to be absorbed; it should be taken as a sort of New Year's gift, a gift which should influence our New Year, and from now on it should work as that which we can perceive through the understanding of the Christ Impulse, in so far as this helps us to understand the words of the Elohim, which resound down to us from the starting point, from the very primeval beginning, of the creation of our Earth.
And look upon the intention of this course at the same time as the starting point of our Anthroposophical spiritual stream. This must be Anthroposophical because by means of it it will be more and more recognized how man can in himself attain to self-knowledge. He cannot yet attain to complete self-knowledge, not yet can Anthropos attain to knowledge of Anthropos, man to the knowledge of man, so long as this man can consider what he has to carry out in his own soul as an affair to be played out between him and external nature. That the world should appear to us to be immersed in matter is a thing the Gods have prepared for us, it is an affair of our own souls, a question of higher self-knowledge; it is something that man must himself recognize in his own manhood, it is a question of Anthroposophy, by means of which we can come to the perception of what theosophy may become to mankind.
It should be a feeling of the greatest modesty which impels a man to belong to the Anthroposophical movement; a modesty which says: If I want to spring over that which is an affair of the human soul and to take at once the highest step into the divine, humility may very easily vanish from me, and pride step in, in its place; vanity may easily install itself. May the Anthroposophical Society also be a starting point in this higher moral sphere; above all, may it avoid all that has so easily crept into the theosophical movement in the way of pride, vanity, ambition, and want of earnestness in receiving that which is the highest Wisdom. May the Anthroposophical Society avoid all this because from its very starting point it has already considered that the settlement with maya is an affair for the human soul itself.
One should feel that the Anthroposophical Society ought to be the result of the profoundest human modesty. For out of this modesty should well up deep earnestness as regards the sacred truths into which it will penetrate if we betake ourselves into this sphere of the supersensible, of the spiritual. Let us therefore understand the adoption of the name “Anthroposophical Society” in true modesty, in true humility, saying to ourselves: Let all that remains of that pride and lack of modesty, vanity, ambition, and untruthfulness that played a part under the name of Theosophy be eradicated, if now, under the sign and device of modesty, we begin humbly to look up to the Gods and divine wisdom, and on the other hand dutifully to study man and human wisdom, if we reverently approach Spiritual Science and dutifully devote ourselves to Anthroposophy.
This Anthroposophy will lead to the divine and to the Gods if by its help we learn in the highest sense to look humbly and truthfully into our own selves and see how we must struggle against all maya and error through self-training and the severest self-discipline. Then, as written on a bronze tablet, may there stand above us the word: Anthroposophy! Let that be an exhortation to us, that above all we should seek through it to acquire self-knowledge, modesty, and in this way endeavor to erect a building founded upon truth, for truth can only blossom if self-knowledge lays hold of the human soul in deep earnestness.
What is the origin of all vanity, of all untruth? The want of self-knowledge. From what alone can truth spring, from what can true reverence for divine worlds and divine wisdom alone come? From true self-knowledge, self-training, self-discipline. Therefore may that which shall stream and pulsate through the Anthroposophical movement serve that purpose.
For these reasons this particular course of lectures has been given at the starting point of the Anthroposophical movement, and it should prove that there is no question of narrowness, but that precisely through our movement we can extend our horizon over those distances which comprise Eastern thought also.
But let us take this humbly in self-educative anthroposophical fashion, by creating the will within us to discipline and train ourselves. If Anthroposophy, my dear friends, be taken up among you in this way, it will then lead to a beneficial end and will attain a goal that can extend to each individual and every human society for their welfare.
So let these words be spoken which shall be the last of this course of lectures, but something of which perhaps many in the coming days will take away with them in their souls, so that it may bear fruit within our Anthroposophical movement, within which you, my dear friends, have, so to speak, met together for the first time. May we ever so meet together in the sign of Anthroposophy that we have the right to call upon words with which we shall now conclude, words of humility and of self-knowledge, which we should now at this moment place as an ideal before our souls.
|"He must increase; I must decrease." — John 3:30|
|Ex Deo Nascimur In Christo Morimur Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus|