Sunday, November 22, 2015

Essene Initiation, Jesus ben Pandira, and the Temptation of Christ



 The Gospel of Matthew. Lecture 8 of 12.
Rudolf Steiner, September 8, 1910:

The raising of the two sides of initiation to the heights of a world-historical transaction comprises what is most essential for us in the Christ event.
In the form of initiation found more especially in the Mysteries and Sanctuaries of Egypt, a man experienced his daily awakening, that is, the descent into his physical and etheric sheaths, so that his perceptive organs were directed not to his physical environment but to the occurrences within these bodies. Those who were initiated according to this ancient method, in which they received guidance and help to shield them from its inherent dangers, became in a certain sense different men. They were able, during the act of initiation at least, to behold the spiritual world, to see in the first place those spiritual forces and beings which are associated with our physical and etheric bodies.
Were we to describe the initiation of the Essenes from this point of view, we should have to say that after passing through the forty-two stages, the Essene would arrive at a more intimate knowledge of his true inner being, his own ego-nature, and of everything that made him capable of spiritual perception through the external organs acquired by inheritance; he would be led beyond the forty-two stages to that divinely spiritual Being who, as Jahve or Jehovah, had brought about the formation of the special organ first possessed by Abraham, as I have already explained. In spirit he would recognize in this organ what was essential to the age in which he lived; he would look back to the composition of his inner being and see it as the product of Divinity; in this form of initiation his attention was, therefore, not directed to knowledge concerning man's own inner nature.
The danger resulting from a man entering his inner being unprepared was described in general terms in the last lecture. I showed how egoism was then aroused in him so that he said: ‘I will summon all my powers, all my egoistic passions and emotions, all that is antagonistic to spiritual knowledge; I will marshal these within me so as to become one with them; in this way I will act, perceive, and feel only from out of my own egoistic inner being.’ Descent into a man's own inner being brings with it the danger of excessive egoism. It is this which as a special kind of illusion again and again approaches those who seek entrance into their inner being by means of esoteric development. In such cases many forms of egoism become apparent in people, which they do not as a rule recognize to be egoism. They believe it to be anything rather than egoism. There are many who would fain see into the higher worlds but they lack the will to endure the training. They find it most uncomfortable to watch the deeply rooted characteristics of human nature rising within them. They would like to reach the spiritual world without this eruption of egoism. They fail to realize that the dissatisfaction felt toward an experience that is quite in order is in itself evidence of the bitterest and most marked egoism. They ought rather to ask: Must not I too, since I am a man, call up all sorts of such powers? They find such phenomena extraordinary — in spite of innumerable explanations of their inevitability at a certain stage. It is easy to give examples of these illusions and deceptions to which people are liable. For instance, human beings today are in many respects very indolent — they prefer to tread the way of initiation with the accustomed ease of ordinary life; but this comfort cannot be experienced on the path leading to the spiritual world.
In ancient times the man who trod the inner path was led to the divine spiritual powers, because to them he owed the creation of his inner being. He could perceive them at work on his physical body and etheric body. Such a man could bear witness to the mysteries of the spiritual worlds, and could tell his fellow men what he passed through while being led in the Mysteries into his own inner being and hence into the spiritual world. Returning from the higher worlds he could say, ‘I have gazed into spiritual existence, but I was helped. Helpers of the initiator in the Mysteries enabled me to outlast the time in which otherwise the demons of my own nature would have overwhelmed me.’ But because he was indebted to outside help for his view of the spiritual world, he remained all his life dependent upon the collegium and on those who had helped him. The powers who had aided him went out with him into the cosmos.
This had to be changed; this dependence had to be overcome. The seekers after initiation had to grow less and less dependent on their teachers and initiators — for something else of great importance was closely associated with that help.
At a certain moment in life, a distinct ego-feeling dawns in our everyday consciousness. This has often been described, and you find the moment described in my book Theosophy. It is the moment when a human being first addresses himself as ‘I.’ This is something an animal cannot do. If an animal were to look into its own inner nature as a man does, it would find not an individual ego, but a group ego. In the old initiations this ego-feeling was, to a certain extent, suppressed. When a man ascended into the spiritual world his feeling of self was clouded. In the light of these lectures it can be seen that it was well this should be so, for egoism, passions, all that tends to separate man from man in the external world, are connected with the ego-feeling. To prevent these passions and emotions from reaching an excessive strength, suppression of the ego-feeling was necessary. During ancient initiation therefore, not exactly a dream-consciousness, but a suppressed condition of the ego-feeling occurred. More and more effort had to be directed toward making a man capable of initiation while maintaining full consciousness of the ego — the ego-consciousness he had in waking life. The ancient practices were to cease. This change could only be achieved in the course of time by slow and gradual stages, but already today in all rightly constituted initiations the point has been reached where the ego-feeling to a high degree is not extinguished when a man rises up into higher worlds.
Let us now examine the pre-Christian initiation of the Essenes more closely. With this initiation was also associated a certain weakening of the ego-feeling. That which gives man his feeling of self in earthly existence, which enables him to confront external objects, had to be suppressed. A little reflection on even the most trivial side of waking life will suffice to make us realize that in another condition, that of sleep, when man is in the spiritual world, he has no consciousness of self. Ego-consciousness belongs to day-consciousness, when the attention is withdrawn from the spiritual world and is directed to the world of the senses. Thus it is today, and so it was in the days when Christ was on Earth. The man of today is for the most part, and in normal conditions, not awake to the spiritual world. Christian initiation really consists in the ego remaining as wide awake in the higher worlds as it is in the external world.
Let us consider quite clearly the moment of awakening. This moment confronts us as that in which man descends from higher worlds and plunges down into his physical and etheric bodies, the inner happenings of which, however, he fails to perceive, his attention being immediately attracted toward his environment. Everything upon which his glance falls at the moment of awakening, everything he perceives through eye or ear, everything he grasps with the understanding bound to the physical brain — everything in fact that exists in his physical environment — was included in the word ‘Malchut’ or ‘the Kingdom’ as employed in the mystery language of the ancient Hebrews. To the Hebrew, ‘Malchut’ stood for everything in which the human ego could consciously take part. ‘The Kingdom’ is primarily the sense-world, the world of waking man, man in the full possession of his ego.
Let us now follow the stages of initiation by which man descends into his own inner being. The first stage preceding the entrance into and the perception of the secrets of the etheric body is easy to surmise. The human outer sheaths consist, as we know, of the astral body, the etheric body,  and the physical body. Into these man must enter. If he is to pass through this kind of initiation he must be able to perceive his astral body consciously from within. This he must experience first, if he wishes to enter the interior of his physical and etheric body. This is the door through which he must go. Here ever new experiences await him, and what he experiences is objective, as objective as the things he encounters in the world of the senses.
In perceiving the objects in our environment with our sense perception, we distinguish three kingdoms, that of minerals, plants, and animals; but the ancient Hebrew did not make this distinction: he regarded them as one and summed them up in the one conception, that of the Kingdom. In the same way as our outer eye perceives animals, plants, and minerals when we direct our glance to the sense world in which our ego is conscious, so the eye of those able to sink down into their inner nature can perceive everything that is to be perceived in the astral body. These things are not as yet beheld consciously by man through his ego, but the ego makes use of the instruments of the astral body in order to perceive them. What a man sees when he makes use of other powers of perception — that is, when his ego is active in a world with which he is connected through his astral organs — was always described in the ancient Hebrew language by three words. Just as we speak of an animal, plant, and mineral kingdom, they expressed this trinity of the astral body in the three words: Nezach, Jesod, and Hod. If these three expressions are to be made in some way conformable to our language we must enter more deeply into the old Hebrew feeling for language than is possible with the aid of an ordinary lexicon. We must call to our aid the sense for language that existed in pre-Christian times. For example, the combination of sounds in the word Hod sought to express the idea of something spiritual appearing outwardly. Try to picture this something spiritual that desires to make itself known outwardly, to express itself outwardly, but a spirituality that must be conceived of as astral in nature. This desire for outward expression is implied in a much stronger form in the word Nezach. What is here striving to reveal itself might perhaps be rendered as ‘Something that appears to be impenetrable.’
In modern handbooks on physics it is stated as an opinion — though it is really to be regarded as a definition, but it is not a matter of logic — that the physical body is ‘impenetrable.’ A physical body should be defined as that of which it can be said that when in one place, no other body can occupy the same place at the same time. This must be put down as a definition — instead of which we now have the dogma: the bodies of the physical world have the quality of impenetrability. Whereas it ought to be: two bodies cannot occupy the same place simultaneously. (This, however, is philosophy.) ‘Nezach’ expresses the self-manifestation of something in space to the exclusion of something else; it represents something a degree coarser than Hod. What lies between these two is the degree expressed in the word ‘Jesod.’
There are thus three degrees. In the first, ‘Hod,’ we have the manifestation of any astral fact revealing itself outwardly. When conditions are coarsened to physical impenetrability it is called ‘Nezach’ in the Hebrew language; and the word ‘Jesod’ is used to define the intermediate conditions. These words express the three different characteristics peculiar to the beings of the astral world.
We can now enter further into man's inner nature with those who seek initiation by this method. Having overcome whatever has to be overcome in the astral body, the seeker enters into his etheric body. He then perceives something higher than is expressed by the three Hebrew words we have just considered. You may wonder why this should be higher. There is something strange here which must be noted if we are to arrive at any real knowledge of the nature of the universe. You must realize that the highest spiritual forces are active in what are apparently the lowest manifestations of the external world. I have often drawn your attention to this and demonstrated it especially in reference to the nature of man.
Man is described as being composed of physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego. From a certain point of view it is true that the ego is the highest of these, but at its present stage of development it is the baby among the four principles of human nature. Though it contains the seed of the highest to which man can attain, it is at present in itself the least advanced. The physical body, on the other hand, is in itself the most perfect of the human principles — no thanks to man, but because throughout the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods divine beings worked upon it. Even the astral body has become more perfect than the ego. The human ego is that which is so close to us that we identify ourselves with it; in fact anyone who does not wilfully close his eyes or is not too superficial to look within himself has only to do so to find his ego there. In comparison, think how far removed man is from the comprehension of the mysteries of his own physical body. Spiritual beings have been working on the physical body of man not for millions, but for millions of millions of years, to bring it to its present perfection of structure. Between the physical body and the ego lie the astral and etheric bodies. Compared with the physical principle the astral is very imperfect: in it are the emotions, passions, and desires. Through the emotions of the astral body many things are enjoyed which have a detrimental effect on the wonderful organism of the physical body, even though the etheric acts as an impediment between the two. Allusion has often been made to the many enjoyments that are injurious to the heart, and how the astral body would undermine the health of the human heart were it not that it is so wonderful and perfect an organization that for many decades it can withstand the attacks of the astral body. But so it is. The deeper we descend, the higher are the spiritual forces at work on our different principles. One might say: It is the youngest gods, the more recent divinely spiritual forces, who have given us our ego, and the older gods who have bestowed that perfection on the lower principles of our being which man has hardly even begun to comprehend, much less to imitate with the instruments at his disposal.
This perfection was perceived more especially by those who made a descent into their inner being  by the methods of initiation practiced among the Essenes. Such an Essene initiate might say: ‘Only after I have passed the first fourteen stages shall I be able to enter my astral body; there I encounter all the passions and emotions connected with this astral body, together with all the harm I have done to it during this incarnation. But I am not as yet in a position to do injury to my etheric body, for it is in fact purer and more divine; and will be seen by me when I have passed through the second fourteen stages.’ He felt that if he could but withstand the attacks of the astral body, the greatest difficulties of the first fourteen stages would be overcome, and he could then enter the light spheres of his etheric body, on which he had not as yet been able to inflict so much injury.
What the seekers after initiation next beheld is described in the ancient Hebrew occult teaching by three expressions which are very difficult to translate; they are GedulahTipheret, and Geburah. Let us try to form some idea of the realms described by these words.
When a man perceived that which united him with his etheric body, he felt affected by the first of these — by Gedulah. The effect of Gedulah was that the individual gained a conception of the majesty, the grandeur, and overwhelming power of the spiritual world. What, on the other hand, is expressed by Geburah, though connected with the first, has a quite different quality of greatness, a greatness that is, as it were, lessened through activity. Geburah is that degree of greatness, or of power, which reveals itself outwardly in order to defend itself and to make itself known as an independent being. Thus, while the word Gedulah implies activity through intrinsic worth, Geburah is activity manifesting outward in what might be called an aggressive way. Tipheret is an expression for greatness at rest within itself; an inwardness certainly that manifests outwardly, but without aggression; a being that, because it gives expression to spiritual greatness, is such as we can only express through a combination of the two ideas ‘goodness’ and ‘beauty.’
A being expressing its inner nature in outward form appears beautiful to us. A being giving outward expression to its intrinsic worth appears good to us. These two conceptions were both inherent in the ancient Hebrew word ‘Tipheret.’
It was descent into the etheric body that brought man in touch with the beings revealing themselves through these three attributes.
The next step is the descent into the physical body. In his physical body man learns to know (if one can so express it) the most ancient of the divine spiritual beings who have worked on him. In Occult Science and in communications From the Akashic Records it is explained how the physical body first came into being on ancient Saturn. Very exalted spiritual beings, the Thrones, offered up their own will-substance to provide the first germ of the human physical body; and in its further development throughout the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, exalted beings cooperated in the work on germinal humanity. In the lectures given at Munich on Biblical Secrets of Creation I described how these exalted beings remained united with man throughout the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, organizing and developing ever more highly and widely the primal germ of the physical organization, so that it might become the marvel of construction we see today, and within which man dwells with his etheric body, astral body, and ego.
A man who is really able to descend into his own inner being perceives something that has qualities which, according to the ancient Hebrew mystical teaching, can only be imagined when concentrating on the most exalted wisdom to which the soul can attain. Such a man regards wisdom as an ideal; he feels his being exalted when he can fill it to some extent with wisdom. Those who at the time of the Essenes were able to plunge down into the physical body knew they approached beings whose whole substance consisted of what a man can attain, in small measure at least, when he strives for wisdom; a wisdom that is not won through ordinary external understanding but only through an understanding born of difficult soul experiences, and that cannot be acquired in one incarnation but in many, and only then in part — for only by acquiring every form of wisdom can man possess it completely. The beings perceived at this stage of initiation were beings of Wisdom — in them the peculiar qualities of pure unalloyed wisdom could be seen. The Hebrew word used to express the qualities of these beings, which today we somewhat vaguely call wisdom, was ‘Chokmah.’ A somewhat denser form of this quality of wisdom is that which is found in man, although in his individuality he can attain it only in small measure. On making the descent into his physical organism a man is again confronted with beings who possess in vast measure an attribute that is a denser form of wisdom, and which, in Hebrew terminology, was called ‘Binah.’ As beings they appeared completely illumined by this attribute. It is what is aroused in man when he is reminded of his reason, though he may indeed only achieve reason in a very restricted form. We have to imagine beings who are completely permeated by the effects of reason; it is these who are referred to when the word ‘Binah’ is used. It is a denser form of ‘Chokmah.’ In the secret doctrine of the ancient Hebrews, ‘Chokmah’ is the name for the original creative wisdom which brought forth from itself the Mysteries of the World. It was there compared to a spring of water, while ‘Binah’ was compared to the sea, thereby indicating its denser nature.
The most exalted state which could be gained through descending into the physical body was called ‘Keter.’ It is difficult to translate this word. It represents, though but faintly, the qualities of very exalted, divine spiritual beings, and can only be indicated symbolically by that which raises a man above himself, which stands for something more than he himself — hence we translate it with ‘crown.’
Binah
Chokmah
Keter
Geburah
Tipheret
Gedulah
Nezach
Jesod
Hod
Malchut
The Kingdom
‘I’
Here is the scale of qualities of those beings into whose realm man strives to evolve after having made the descent into his own inner nature. This must be regarded as a growing upward.
An Essene initiation must be pictured as bringing entirely new experiences and new knowledge, and as impressing on the pupil the reality of these qualities. It differed entirely from the initiation of neighboring nations, which was still of the ancient form. This difference must be now explained.
All ancient initiations were especially directed toward the suppression of the feeling of self which a man has when looking upon Malchut, the Kingdom. This feeling had to be blotted out. On initiation a man cannot remain as he is in the physical world; he is certainly led into the spiritual world, but cannot remain such a man as he was when in the ‘Kingdom.’ A sharp distinction has to be made in ancient initiation between the experiences of an initiate and how he felt when within his ego.
Were I to compress into one sentence how ancient initiation was carried out in the Mystery schools of olden times and how this life could be compared with life in the outer world, I should say: ‘It must not be thought that the same feeling of self which a man experiences in the “Kingdom” remains when he has developed the three times three attributes, described above, in their reality. He must withdraw from all such feelings of self. What is experienced as Nezach, Jesod, and Hod cannot be carried down into the Kingdom, or remain associated with the ordinary ego-feeling of a man.’ This was common knowledge. Whoever dared to contradict it would have been regarded as a fool, a liar, and a madman.
But the Essenes were the first to teach: ‘A time is coming when all that is above will be brought down, so that man will be able to experience it and yet maintain his ego feeling intact!’ This was what the Greeks called ‘Basileia.’ The Essenes were the first to teach of the coming of One ‘Who would bring down what is in the “Kingdoms of the Heavens” into “Malchut”, the kingdom in which the human ego dwells.’ This was first taught in mighty words by Jesus ben Pandira to his Essene followers and to certain others who were near him.
Jesus ben Pandira was the first to foretell this through the inspiration which he had received from the successor of Gautama Buddha (from the Bodhisattva who is destined to be the Maitreya Buddha); and he gave the following teaching to his pupil Mathai: ‘Hitherto the Kingdoms of Heaven could not be brought down into Malchut, the Kingdom to which the ego belongs; but when the three times fourteen generations shall be fulfilled there will be born of the race of Abraham, in the house of Jesse (the Jessians or Essenes) One Who will bring the nine attributes of the Kingdoms of Heaven down into the Kingdom in which the ego is present.’
Such teaching was regarded as sacrilege; it was considered the vilest abuse of initiation by those who refused to recognize that what is right for one age is not necessarily right for another — because humanity is always advancing. Jesus ben Pandira, who taught this sacrilege, was therefore stoned to death.
Then came the time when what had been foretold was to be fulfilled, when the three times fourteen generations had been accomplished, and a physical body could arise from the blood of the race meet for Zarathustra— such a physical body as after Zarathustra had incarnated in it and brought it to fuller perfection, he could offer up to the Christ. The time had come of which the forerunner of the Christ declared: The time is at hand when ‘The Kingdoms of Heaven’ will approach the ego dwelling in the outer Kingdom — in Malchut.
We can now understand what the first self-imposed task of Christ was after he had passed through the Temptation. He had withstood temptation through the forces of His own inner being, through what, in men, we today call the ‘ego.’ He had succeeded in enduring and overcoming all the trials and temptations which assail a man who makes the descent into his astral, etheric, and physical bodies. This is clearly shown. All forms of egoism are represented, so that our attention is directed to them in their intensest form.
The greatest obstacle encountered by the esoteric student, as is only natural when sinking within his own inner being, is the unwise tendency to occupy himself more and more with his own much-loved personality. Indeed, one never finds this more readily than in those who seek entrance into the spiritual world. They love to occupy themselves with their own personality, giving it the minutest attention. While formerly they had resolutely kept themselves away from this, as soon as they attempt development, or even as soon as they become Anthroposophists, they begin to occupy themselves very largely with their own ego; then all kinds of illusions arise that formerly the ordinary trend of life easily spared them. The reason for this is that such people are ignorant of how to act when everything arising from their own being becomes one with them; they are quite without experience as to what they should do. Formerly such people were easily interested in external things; now they are more withdrawn, more interested in inner experiences. All kinds of emotions now emerge from their own nature. Why?
Such a person would like to become a complete ego, to be entirely independent of the outer world. Above all, he is now apt to fall into the error of preferring to be treated like a child who has to be told clearly what to do and to have everything explained to him. He would indeed prefer anything rather than to direct himself to the goal which esoteric life discloses. He is not yet able to give his mind to this; yet his dependence on the outer world disturbs him, especially when he wishes to be most detached from it and to interest himself in his own ego. But there is always one thing that prevents his detaching himself completely from the external world — trivial though it may be, this is the fact that he must eat! This fact shows how helpless man is without his environment; such dependence on the outer world may aptly be compared with the dependence of the finger on the hand; if severed, the finger perishes. It needs but little insight to realize man's dependence on the outer world. Egoism stretched to its limits may even produce in a man the desire: If only I could become independent of my environment; if only I could create magically within myself that which as ordinary man forces me to feel so bitterly my dependence on what is outside me
Such a wish may actually arise in the seeker after initiation. Similarly, hatred may be roused by the feeling of dependence on the surrounding world and the impossibility of creating nourishment magically. It may seem extraordinary to say such things, because desires that are apparent in small things become absurd when carried to extremes. No one really gives way to the illusion that he could create nourishment magically, and live without what comes from the ‘Kingdom,’ but carried to an extreme he might exclaim: ‘Could I but reach a stage of development where I live so truly in my astral body and ego that I no longer have need of the world about me!’ This form of temptation does arise; and it is described of One Who had experienced it most acutely that the tempter who confronted Jesus Christ told Him to change stones into bread. Here we have temptation in its extremest form. It is in fact man's descent into his own being that is so wonderfully described in the story of the Temptation as related in the Gospel of Matthew.
The second stage of temptation arises after the descent into the astral body has taken place, when the novice is confronted by those desires and emotions which so easily transform him into an extreme egoist. When a man feels himself confronted by these he might, instead of resisting and overcoming them, cast himself down into the etheric and physical body. This is a situation which might be described as hurling himself into the abyss. This is how it is described in the Gospel of Matthew: as a plunging down into the etheric body and physical body, into that which has so far remained almost unspoiled by man. But this cannot be until all desires and emotions have been overcome. The Christ knew this, and facing and subduing the tempter by His own power, He said, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Being to Whom thou must surrender thyself!’
Then comes the third stage, the descent into the physical body. When this descent appears as a temptation, it is described in a special way. It is an experience actually endured by everyone who reaches this stage on the path of initiation. Everything is then seen, as it were, from within, everything that is associated with the three highest principles. The seeker after initiation sees this as a world — but a world of his own illusions, a world in which it is impossible to recognize intrinsic truth without breaking through the shell of the physical body and rising to those spiritual beings who have themselves left the physical body, who are no longer within it, but only work upon it. Unless we free ourselves from egoism, Lucifer or Diabolus, the tempter of the physical world, continually rouses self-deception in us. He promises to give us all that we behold, but this is really maya, the creation of our own illusion. So long as this Spirit of Egoism remains with us, we perceive a complete world — but a world of deception and lies; he promises to give us this world — but we must not think it is a world of reality. We have first to enter this world, but unless we escape from it again we remain in a world of maya.
Christ Jesus lived through these three stages of temptation as a model and a pattern for man. Because they were once experienced outside the ancient Mysteries, experienced through the power of a Being Who Himself dwelt within the three human bodies, an impulse was given which enables man in the future course of evolution to experience the spiritual world in his own ego, even in that ego in which he dwells in Malchut. That was to be reached by what has held the two worlds apart coming to an end, so that man with his ego that lives in Malchut will be able to ascend into the spiritual world. This was the result gained for humanity in the overcoming of temptation as related in the Gospel of Matthew. It was attained through the fact that a being living on the Earth had now become a pattern for the passing over of the ego as it exists in the Kingdom into higher kingdoms and higher worlds. What was found to result from Christ having experienced in outward historical form what had hitherto been confined to the Mysteries? What naturally followed from this? What followed was the preaching of the Kingdom.
The Gospel of Matthew therefore first describes the Temptation, and then in ordered sequence tells of the phases of the ascent of the ego, which is now able to experience the spiritual world within itself without the necessity of first going out of itself. The secret of this ego — which as it lives in the outer kingdom, ascends into the spiritual world—this secret was now to be revealed through the Christ to all the world during the time following on the story of the Temptation, as told in the Gospel of Matthew. Then come the chapters, beginning with the Sermon on the Mount, which show what Christ meant by ‘Malchut’ — the Kingdom.
Profound indeed is the Gospel of Matthew. So profound that its sources must be sought in the secret teachings not only of the Essenes but of the ancient Hebrews and the Greek world in general. Realization of this truth awakens in us a holy reverence and a profound respect for this document, a reverence which deepens when, furnished with the investigations of spiritual science, we meet with what the seers told us of old. When we hear that such things were related by the ancient seers, we feel as if we hear them speaking to us directly from far-off time. It is like the transmission of some spirit-language in which mighty individuals have conversed with one another throughout the centuries — so that those who have the will to hear can hear it. Those can hear at least who understand the words in the Gospel — ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!’
But just as at one time much had to happen before the physical ear could be formed, so much, very much, is necessary in order that spiritual ears may be developed by which we shall be able to understand what is told us in these mighty original spiritual documents.
The purpose of our new spiritual science is to teach people to read these spiritual documents once more. Only when we are equipped with an understanding of the ego — an understanding of the nature of the ego in the Kingdom — will it be possible for us to understand the teaching that begins with the words ‘Blessed are those who are beggars in regard to the spirit, for through themselves, through their own ego, they will find the Kingdoms of the Heavens!’
An initiate of olden times would have said: ‘It would have been in vain for you to seek the Kingdoms of the Heavens in your own ego.’ But Christ Jesus said: ‘The time is now come when those who seek the Kingdoms of the Heavens can find the Spirit!’
The carrying into effect in the external world of the profound secrets of the Mysteries is the historical side of the Christ event, and in this sense we propose to study this event yet more closely. You will then understand what interpretation to put on the words ‘Blessed are those,’ with which the Sermon on the Mount begins.