Thursday, May 5, 2016
Satan versus Michael; Transubstantiation. The Book of Revelation and the Work of the Priest: Lecture 18 of 18
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, September 22, 1924:
We have considered the inner spirit of the Book of Revelation, and we have considered the Book of Revelation in relation to your work as priests. Of course it would still be possible to say all kinds of other things in connection with it—for example, one could go deeply into the way it is structured. But it seems to me that this gathering here at Dornach will receive the best content of all if what has been said so far now continues to make its appearance in truly practical ways in your work as priests.
There is one more subject we must touch on. We must consider that we are living in the era of the consciousness soul, that stage of overall human evolution in which the human being has to grasp hold of intellectuality and integrate it into his own individuality. This is, of course, what you might call the first stage, the stage as yet confined to the spirit of the human being, the stage in which the integration of intellectuality will take place in human contemplation and thinking. Another stage will come in which deeper forces of the human soul will also be seized by what at present is taking place more in the realm of thoughts and aspirations and thinking.
At present human beings are still capable of having ideas about how they might make use of the intellectuality that is breaking into their own individuality. But this era of consciousness soul development will not pass before souls, too, will be seized by intellectuality in their deepest emotions, in their feelings and passions. When this has happened, what the Middle Ages still sought in the stars and termed the angelic Intelligences of the stars will have entered even more deeply and thoroughly into human beings. All this will be deposited in the human being. Later still, when the Jupiter condition comes, even the body will be seized by intellectuality. In our present time, while the situation is still such that human beings can put into thoughts and words what this is all about, while the soul has not yet been seized in its inmost being by intellectuality, it is still possible, for priests especially, so to direct their work that the cosmic purposes, the cosmic goals, can really be achieved.
Although it is part of cosmic wisdom that the human being should grasp the intellectuality in the cosmos for himself, nevertheless there remains the possibility that while he is doing this he might—in those unguarded moments that always exist—allow those ahrimanic powers known as Satan in Christian tradition to snatch this intellectuality from him. Satan should not be confused with the ordinary devil, who lacks Satan’s characteristics and is merely a more lowly power. Satan has the rank of an Archai, and it was he who seized hold of this intellectuality during the course of cosmic evolution, long before it approached the human being in the manner described. At present Satan is what you might call the most comprehensive owner of intellectuality, and he is striving to bind human intellectuality firmly to his own, an occurrence that could cause the human being to drop away from his proper evolution. In other words, the ahrimanic power is striving to make the Mystery of Golgotha ineffective.
This ahrimanic power known as Satan in Christian tradition is not strong enough to have any effect in the various levels of the cosmos that are above the human being. It is inconceivable, for example, that the intelligence of, say, an Angelos could be directly seized by this satanic power. Such a thing can only happen in certain exceptional cases. Knowledge of the possibility that, in the future, moments can arise in which the satanic power will be strong enough to bind to itself not only human beings via their intellectuality but also beings from the realm of the Angeloi, particularly Archangeloi—this knowledge still belongs at present to the higher secrets of occultism, about which for the present one must not speak and which can only be revealed under certain circumstances. So just now we can only hint at the fact that in future the temptation and seduction even of beings from the hierarchy of the Angeloi and especially the Archangeloi might be possible.
What we have to reckon with today is that the power called Satan in the Christian tradition has the ability to attach itself to something in the human being that exists in him as independently as does the intellect. Once the intellectuality in the human being has been taken hold of by the ahrimanic power, then the human being can be torn away from his evolution and taken to quite other paths simply by having his being dragged along by his intellect, to which Satan has the power to attach himself.
This would not be possible in the case of any other force of soul or spirit, nor in the case of any bodily force in the human being. It is possible only in the case of the intellect, for the intellect is situated in the human being in a way that makes it the most independent of all aspects. Every other aspect is attached in one way or another to certain divine powers. So if Satan wanted to seize hold of feeling, for example, or of desires and wishes in the human being, he would find himself up against the supra-human forces hidden in these soul capacities. The intellectuality is the first aspect with which the human being can detach himself from the beings who bring about his personal evolution. It is the first aspect in which the human being must attach himself through total freedom to those powers who from the beginning have been present in his evolution.
The human being will have to learn that he must identify of his own free will with those ultimate aims in the Book of Revelation that are hinted at by the apocalyptist; he will have to learn that a power will appear who is the Alpha and Omega of the continuous creative powers, the continuous creative being, of evolution; and he will have to learn that he must attach himself out of his own resolve to that being who had been guiding him while he still lacked maturity for the cosmos.
Satan, however, can make use of this great moment in the evolution of humanity to draw the human being across into his own realm through the intellect. Already now we can observe how the satanic power is endeavoring to draw the human being across into its evolution. The method used is to combine human beings into groups, the seeds of which are visible everywhere today—groups in which the old group souls cease to exist and in which a new kind of group soul nature can begin. What is happening over in the East of Europe just now is so terribly satanic because its whole aim is to force human beings together in ways that make it necessary for there to be group souls. Once the most intelligent have been dragged across into the lower realm of Ahriman, then will the groups being formed be allotted to the ahrimanic powers. If this were to happen, the way would be open for the satanic powers to drag humanity away from Earth evolution and take it across to some other planetary evolution.
The introduction of this group soul nature will only succeed if the element of intellect can be completely detached from its links in a specific way. Some most cunning beginnings are in progress over in the East today toward the achievement of this. You ought to understand this in your work as priests, for although these beginnings are most noticeable in the East, the same is happening all over Central and Western Europe as well.
We should therefore also mention something which may appear to be relatively harmless at the moment, but which must be regarded in all seriousness in exoteric life, and that is the way psychology, the science of the soul, is being allowed to become a kind of experimental observation. This is one of the ways leading to a situation in which the soul forces no longer work from human being to human being in the sense required by the old divine powers. Instead they are determined quantitatively from the outside through an intellect that has become detached, or in some other external manner. These things are still relatively harmless in Central Europe, but you should not ignore the fact that in the West, especially through William James but also through others, a way of looking at things statistically is coming to the fore, an intellectualistic way of looking at things, a way that is detached from the life of soul, and that this is being applied even to inner transformations in human beings, to what one might call the inner, religious finding of oneself that occurs today in many cases around about the twentieth year. Around about their twentieth year many people these days experience a moment of inner conversion, a conversion that comes about entirely from within. They are taken hold of by something that is like a kind of whirling up of divinity out of their own soul. In America statistics are compiled about what percentage of the population goes through this kind of inner conversion. This matter is treated statistically. What is satanic about this is the way it is treated statistically, the way things are lumped together by the detached intellect. These conversions are something that happens as a result of karma, and therefore each case should be looked at on its own.
In science today statistics are praised to the skies. If you follow scientific matters you keep coming across tremendous acclaim for statistics. People are no longer capable of getting close to inner aspects, so instead they seek to find laws through statistics. Opposing this is most difficult of all in the field of medicine, where it has gained ground frightfully, and where clinical methods all culminate in statistics that tell us which medicines have worked positively or negatively and so on. This is where the statistical element has crept in, and this is also where it is entirely useless; to know how many cases had this outcome and how many had that outcome is meaningless. The important thing is to understand each individual case thoroughly, regardless of the outcome. Only after all the different methods have been applied to studying the individual case with all its idiosyncracies is it acceptable to employ statistics. (As you know, statistics has played a huge role in social considerations where social democracy is in the forefront.) In reality statistics is only acceptable as the final stage, after everything else has been looked at individually. Then it is permissible to say how many cases had a favorable and how many an unfavorable outcome.
Statistics of suicide or madness are equally nonsensical. People work out what percentage in certain professions commit suicide or go mad. Yet for a true understanding there is no value in knowing this. What is essential is to know why the individual person commits suicide or what makes the individual person go mad.
This statistical way of looking at things, that is regarded as so important these days wherever scientists write about their theory of knowledge, this preoccupation with statistics really does make it look as though Satan has broken loose. It is truly terrible. This way of looking at things, which has revealed the machinations of the satanic power in Central Europe and in the East, has become a philosophy with Avenarius and Mach, and their ideas in turn have been studied by the leading Bolshevik philosophers, who then took this philosophy to Russia. Even those who good-naturedly want to regard humanity as progressing in an evolutionary way—there is not much you can do about what happens! they say—even such people tend to think that the seeds of Bolshevism were sown decades ago in Central Europe and then merely transferred to Russia, just as though a seed can be transplanted and expected to germinate anywhere.
So the satanic power is at work everywhere already, appealing to the detached intellect that regards things as having no inner connection with one another; it is at work in matters of soul and in matters of spirit, in inner conversions and so on. If Satan should succeed in making things happen in the way he wants them to happen by a certain point in time, then things would come about that would damage human evolution. The events of which the apocalyptist speaks are coming, but the question is what their outcome will be. There are in fact really only two possibilities for the future. One is that things will turn out to be in harmony with the evolution planned by the gods for humanity, and the other is the opposite.
Intellectuality, then, is breaking in on us, and human beings are becoming more and more intelligent not through Inspiration but by their own efforts. This is happening. Yet on the other hand influences coming from the luciferic direction are also there, and they have kept humanity in a weakened state. So groupings will form, despite the fact that in the age of individuality—in what is actually the Christian age—everything that is individual is what would be salutary for humanity. Groups will form, but these groups must be removed from the danger in which they will find themselves.
A time will come when the satanic power will have made great efforts to win over humanity’s powers of intelligence and when this satanic power will have grown so great that it will approach all the groups that have formed; so the situation will really arise in which Satan’s power will work into all the four corners of the world. These groups—smaller ones: Gog, and larger ones: Magog—will be exposed to temptation and seduction by the satanic power. The outcome of this will be decided by whether those who have meanwhile taken spirituality in hand will have generated such a degree of intensity that human intellectuality can be led, with the help of Michael’s strength, to where it belongs, which is to the originating powers that were there when human evolution began and that want to take forward in collaboration with human freedom what human beings have since become. An immense amount will depend on whether human beings will succeed in thoroughly understanding genuine spirituality with its own inner order.
This whole matter of humanity must be taken into consideration when one works as a priest, for only if we succeed in guiding everything in this direction will the great act of seduction that Satan is planning in connection with Gog and Magog end in a way that will be beneficial for human evolution.
Otherwise the only outcome will be that at some time in the future everything human beings have experienced since about the seventh century, since the year 666, will be snatched from them, everything they will already have experienced under the influence of the developing individuality. Darkness would obscure all the earlier incarnations of humanity, and a new world evolution would replace earthly evolution. We can see the beginnings of this today and we can also see the great danger already threatening humanity. All human weaknesses are being used—for the ahrimanic powers have the greatest conceivable intellectuality—all human weaknesses will be used, especially people’s vanity and their lack of truthfulness, to get human beings on to the wrong side. The power that was at work at the beginning of the World War was something terrible. It was terrible how people’s vanity was used by the satanic powers to bring about—within a few days, once a monstrous sleep-like consciousness had been induced—a whirlwind that set off a terrible frenzy, so that even today it is not clear what actually happened then.
Yet that is merely one phase. Far worse phases are at present taking place in a preliminary way in the purely intellectual so-called cultural battles of our time. Where, tell me, does truth still exist? Everywhere you can see how things are being arranged in a way that makes people less and less inclined to take truthfulness into account. Think of the ever increasing efforts that are being made to make cultural life conform with state requirements. How much of our cultural life is already dominated by the state! All such things pose a great threat to humanity, but people are not at all inclined to engender a genuine understanding of them. You saw what happened when the movement for a threefolding of the social order first began to work against the seduction of Gog and Magog so that future events might be guided in a direction that would be favorable to the further evolution of humanity. The way in which the idea of a threefold society was received, the way this idea that was intended to lead humanity across this present threshold of its evolution was received, shows the immense dangers threatening humanity in connection with these things. That is why it is necessary for priests, too, to take these things absolutely seriously.
There was once an individuality who lived on the Earth in the early centuries of Christian development and experienced the year 666. With a degree of clairvoyance this individuality saw what was taking place and what it meant that the satanic power was preparing such a mission even then. This individuality, who lived in the very place where the real struggle of the church was taking place, in Rome, and who then prepared the way for Christianity in Europe, recognized this with spiritual clarity. Later on—as happened to so many—this individuality mistook the satanic power, whom even Michael recognizes as superior to himself, for the devil of the Middle Ages; he spoke of the devil, but in such a way that it is obvious that it is the satanic power which is meant. This individuality was reincarnated in Berlin during the first half of the nineteenth century. His name was Trahndorff, and he was an ordinary grammar-school teacher. Yes, he defended the existence of the devil, or rather Satan. He wrote a book, Ist der Teufel ein Hirngespinst? (‘Is the Devil a Chimera?’), and not only that; he also wrote a book on aesthetics. Read that book! There is no point talking to theologians about him because he has been ignored by them; the leading clergy in Berlin were his enemies.
All these things culminate in the question: Will the priests be capable of representing the spiritual world in its full reality rather than in the sentimental manner that has come into fashion over the last few centuries, so that as soon as one talks of the spirit one feels disinclined to include the power of evil? The question is whether their energy will be sufficient to represent the reality of the spirit. This, dear friends, is absolutely the main thing. The main point is that we need the same attitude of soul for contemplating things such as the knowledge of karma, honestly contemplating earlier lives on Earth, as we do for contemplating the Transubstantiation when it is celebrated during the Act of Consecration of Man. Such inner pictures must become real again for humanity. Only if they become real will it be possible, dear friends, to present what the apocalyptist was so deeply concerned about as a prospect for humanity so that all these things may be guided in the right direction. The things we have been talking about here in connection with the Book of Revelation are truths that one ought not to receive without uniting one’s whole humanity with them, that one ought not to receive without regarding them as a kind of Communion.
One can truly say: A genuine ecclesia comprises the congregation as its outer reality, while the priests must regard themselves as that group of beings within the ecclesia through whose work the spirit flows into humanity. For this one does need, with the right understanding, the small tabernacle with the consecrated Host wherein the mystery of the Transubstantiation is contained. Imagine you have the chalice in which the Transubstantiation is accomplished. Through the Transubstantiation human beings seek the path to the Father, to that primeval creator-power who has his being in it in all reality, and who cannot be found if you look onesidedly for spirit alone or onesidedly for matter alone, but who is only found when you directly discover the oneness of spirit with matter. Genuine understanding of the world is only present today when the Transubstantiation is celebrated on the altar. Then indeed that holy event happens in which the Father is sought, and the Son shows the human being the way to the Father, the Son who is the one who mediates the path to the Spirit.
So when he sees what is represented everywhere by the physical world, the human being can find in the Transubstantiation the wholly hidden Spirit in the physical—the work of Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones, whose hidden work appears as physical substance. If one wants to have this as Spirit, one must tread the path to the Father. The path to the Father is shown by the Son, who then brings it about that the Spirit appears out of the physical.
The bread—to speak only of the bread, but the same can be shown also for the wine—the bread is bread, but the Father can be sought in it. Christ shows the way. Through the Transubstantiation the bread surrounds itself with the aura. In the aura the human being experiences the Spirit. The wine merely represents an amplification of what is in the bread. (Plate 8)
We can therefore say: One’s yearning for the Father lives in seeing the sense-perceptible, in which Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones are hidden. Christ leads the human being to the path, so that before him Kyriotetes, Dynamis, and Exusiai begin to work in the manner described yesterday, and he ascends to that realm where today he can only observe the spiritual world in its spirituality, where the Holy Spirit is right in the middle: Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai.
This, dear friends, is told in the Book of Revelation. To understand this, to conclude that it must be understood today—what does this mean? It means that someone who understands it will find his own understanding already set out in the Book of Revelation. It is therefore possible to say: It is entirely up to you, dear friends, whether or not it is you about whom the Book of Revelation has been speaking. If you take the impulses of the Book of Revelation into your work as priests in a truly spiritual sense, then you are the ones, dear friends, about whom the Book of Revelation has been speaking as being the ones who come to turn aside the might of the Beast, of the False Prophet, of Satan. Then, wherever the chalice for the Transubstantiation stands, you will always imagine beneath it the apocalyptic Book. You will think to yourself: The chalice is standing upon the apocalyptic book. And as you think this you will be able to say: Therein lies my calling, and what we do above this is the enactment of my calling.
Dear friends, I did not want to start a theoretical discussion during this conference. Since you had the justifiable wish to hear something about the Book of Revelation, I wanted to give you what I have given you, thus placing for you the Book of Revelation beneath the chalice. It is to this that our considerations were intended to lead. Whatever the circumstances, you will succeed in achieving what it is possible to achieve, dear friends, if you extend the ideals of your work as firmly as they can be extended, especially when you make our earnest considerations of the Book of Revelation into the inmost impulse of your own work.
This, dear friends, is what I wanted to bring to you in conclusion of our considerations here. You will surely believe that the most intensive thoughts regarding your intensive, urgent work, worthy of a great task, will accompany all that you will now do in following up these considerations.
(Friedrich Rittelmeyer expressed the gratitude of the participants.) [His words were not recorded.]
Rudolf Steiner: These words do not refer to anything external. What they express is an inner heartfelt vow, and if we can learn to place this into the light of rightly comprehended grace, then what is to happen will indeed happen, which is that the paths of gods and men must merge in our time. Michael will be the great mediator between the paths of gods and the paths of human beings. Let us pay heed to his work! Let us learn from the beginnings of his work in the past what is to be achieved in the future! Then shall we be permitted to look to the future not merely with well-meaning enthusiasm but with courageous enthusiasm, then shall we find our will conjoined more and more with the divine will that has guided humanity from the beginning, then shall we feel our freedom join forces with the freedom of the gods. This is what we must feel. If we do, we shall be permitted to say each day when we have finished our daily work, hoping not for smaller but for greater things for the following day: Perhaps the gods are looking down upon us and saying: Yea, so be it.