Monday, November 21, 2016

John the Baptist and the Buddha

The Gospel of Luke. Lecture 6 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Basel, September 20, 1909:

The mission of the Hebrews. Buddha's teaching concerning the ennoblement of man's inner nature and Zarathustra's teaching concerning the cosmos. Elijah and John the Baptist.

It will be easier for us to understand details in the Gospel of St. Luke if during our preparatory study the beings and individualities concerned stand before our mind's eye as living figures. The need for a good deal of preliminary history must therefore not discourage us.
First and foremost we must learn to know the great central figure of the Gospels in the whole complexity of His nature, and also certain other facts essential to any real understanding of the Gospel of St. Luke.
Let us first recall what has already been said about the Bodhisattva who in the fifth/sixth century before our era became Buddha. We have described what this most significant event meant for humanity and we will consider it in detail once again.
The content of Buddha's teaching had at some given time to be transmitted to men as their own possession. In none of the epochs before Buddha could there have existed on the Earth a human being capable of discovering within himself the teaching of compassion and love as expressed in the Eightfold Path. Evolution had not progressed sufficiently to enable any human being to discover these truths through his own contemplation and deepened life of feeling. Everything in the world comes into being and develops; for everything in existence there must be a cause. How, for example, could men in earlier times have obeyed the principles subsequently expressed in the Eightfold Path? They could have done so only because these principles were handed down as tradition, were inculcated into them from the occult schools of the initiates and seers. It was the Bodhisattva who taught in the secret Mystery schools, where it was possible to rise to the higher worlds and receive from those realms knowledge that could not yet be imparted directly to the human intellect. In ancient times this teaching had had to be instilled into humanity by those who were fortunate enough to come into direct contact with the teachers in the Mystery schools. It was necessary for men to be influenced in such a way that their lives were governed by these principles, although they would not themselves have been capable of discovering them.
Thus men who lived outside the Mysteries unconsciously obeyed the principles received from those who had access to them. As yet there existed on the Earth no human body constituted in a way that would have enabled a man to discover the content of the Eightfold Path himself, however deeply the spirit may have penetrated into him. The principles had to be revealed from above and then communicated in a suitable form. Consequently a being such as the Bodhisattva, before he became Buddha, was never able to use a human body on Earth in the fullest sense. He could find no body capable of incorporating all the faculties through which he was to influence men. No such body existed. What, then, was necessary? How did the Bodhisattva incarnate? We must now ask this question.
What the Bodhisattva was as a spiritual being did not fully incarnate. Clairvoyant observation of a body ensouled by a Bodhisattva would have revealed that the body enclosed only part of his nature and that his etheric body towered far above the human sheath; his connection with the spiritual world was never wholly relinquished; he lived in a spiritual and in a physical body simultaneously. The transition from Bodhisattva to Buddha meant that for the first time there existed a body into which the Bodhisattva could fully descend and through which his powers could take effect. Thus he exemplified the ideal human stature which men must strive to emulate in order that each individual may eventually discover from within himself the teaching of the Eightfold Path, as the Bodhisattva himself discovered it under the Bodhi tree. Were we to examine the previous incarnations of the Bodhisattva who became Buddha we should find that part of his being was obliged to remain in the spiritual world; he could send only part of himself into the physical body. It was not until the fifth/sixth century B.C. that for the first time there existed a human organism into which the Bodhisattva could descend in the fullest sense, thus exemplifying the possibility that the principles of the Eightfold Path can be discovered by humanity itself through the moral tenor of the soul.
The fact that some men lived with part of their being in the spiritual world was known to all religions and cognate modes of thought. It was known that there were beings destined to work on the Earth for whom human embodiment was too restricted to contain the whole individuality. In the religious thought of western Asia this kind of union of a higher individuality with a physical body was called ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit’. This is a quite definite, technical expression. In the language of those regions it would have been said of a being such as a Bodhisattva while incarnated on Earth that he was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ — meaning that the forces and powers possessed by such a being were not fully contained within his human organism and that something spiritual must work from outside. Thus it might with truth be said that the Buddha, in his previous incarnations, was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’.
Having grasped this we shall be able to understand what is said at the beginning of the Gospel of St. Luke. We know that in the etheric body of the Jesus child of the Nathan line of the House of David there was present the hitherto untouched part of the etheric body that had been withdrawn from humanity at the time of the ‘Fall into sin’. The etheric substance withheld from Adam had been preserved and was sent down into this child. This was necessary in order that a being so young and entirely untouched by any experiences of earthly evolution might be in existence and assimilate all that he was destined to assimilate. Would an ordinary human being who had passed through incarnations since the Lemurian age have been able to receive the overshadowing power of Buddha's Nirmanakaya? No indeed! A human body of great perfection had to be made available, one that could only be produced through part of the etheric substance of Adam — untouched by all earthly influences — being united with the etheric body of this Jesus child. This etheric substance was imbued with the forces that had worked upon Earth evolution before the Fall and now, in the Jesus child, their power was immeasurably enhanced. This made it possible for the mysterious influence referred to in the lecture yesterday to be exercised by the mother of the Nathan Jesus upon the mother of the Baptist — that is to say, upon John himself before he was born.
It is also essential to understand the nature of the one known as John the Baptist. We can understand him only when we perceive the difference between the teaching given by Buddha in India and the teaching given to the ancient Hebrew people through Moses and his successors, the Hebrew prophets.
Buddha imparted to mankind what the human soul can find as its own law and obey in order to purify itself and thus reach the highest level of morality attainable on Earth. The ‘Law of the Soul’ — Dharma — was proclaimed through Buddha in such a way that at the highest stage of development attainable by human nature, man can discover it himself, in his own soul. Buddha was the first to reveal it. But the evolution of humanity does not by any means proceed in a straight line. The several streams of culture and civilization must fertilize each other. The Christ Event was to come to pass in Asia Minor and this made it necessary that the development of the people there should remain behind that of the people of India, in order that men in Asia Minor might receive in greater freshness, at a later period, what had been imparted to the people of India in a different form.
Thus a people who developed in a quite different way and remained at a more backward stage than those living farther to the East had to be established in Asia Minor. Whereas the people of the more distant East were destined by cosmic wisdom to advance to the stage of being able to behold the Bodhisattva as Buddha, it was necessary for the people of Asia Minor — especially the Hebrew people — to be left at a lower, more childlike stage. The same thing had to happen in the evolution of humanity on a large scale as might be seen on a small scale in the case of a human being who develops to a certain degree of maturity by his twentieth year and has acquired definite faculties. But acquired faculties are apt also to become shackles, hindrances. Such faculties tend to become fixed at the stage they have actually reached and to keep the person concerned at that stage. They have a firm hold upon him and later on, perhaps in his thirtieth year, it is not easy for him to transcend the stage reached when he was twenty. On the other hand, a second man who has kept himself longer in a childlike state and because he has acquired only very few faculties by his twentieth year is obliged to learn from the other — such a man can more easily attain the required stage and indeed at the age of thirty may reach a higher level than the first man who acquired his faculties in his early years. Anyone who observes life closely will find this to be the case. Faculties that a man has made his own possession may become shackles later on, whereas faculties that are not so intrinsically linked with the soul but have been acquired in a more external way are less liable to have that effect.
In order that humanity may advance, provision has always to be made for two streams of civilization, one of which receives into itself the rudiments of certain faculties and elaborates them, while the development of the other, adjacent, stream is as it were held back. The one stream develops certain faculties to a suitable degree — faculties which are then essentially part of this stream and of the men belonging to it. Evolution proceeds, and something new appears; but the first stream would not be capable of rising to a higher stage through its own powers. Provision has therefore to be made for another stream to run side by side with it. This second stream remains in a certain respect undeveloped, having not nearly reached the level of the first; nevertheless it continues its course and is eventually able to benefit from the faculties acquired by the first. Having in the intervening period remained youthful, it is able, later on, to rise higher. Thus the one stream has fertilized the other. Spiritual streams must run their course side by side in this way in the evolution of humanity and provision must be made accordingly by the spiritual guidance of the world.
In what way could it be ensured that side by side with the stream represented by the great Buddha a second stream should run its course and at a later time receive what Buddha had brought to mankind?
This could only be achieved by withholding from the stream known as the ancient Hebraic the possibility of producing human beings capable of developing dharma out of their own moral nature, that is to say, capable of finding the teachings of the Eightfold Path for themselves. In this stream there could be no Buddha. What Buddha brought to his spiritual stream in the form of deep inwardness the other stream had to receive from outside. As a particularly wise measure, therefore, and long before the appearance of Buddha, this people of the Near East was given the ‘Law’, not from within but from outside, in the Ten Commandments known as the Decalogue. The teaching imparted to another people as a possession of the inner life was given to the ancient Hebrew people in the Ten Commandments — a number of external laws received from outside and not yet united with the soul. Hence by reason of their childlike stage of evolution the ancient Hebrews felt that the Commandments had been given to them from heaven. The Indian people had been taught to realize that men evolve dharma, the law of the soul, from their inmost being; the Hebrew people were trained to obey the law given them from without. In this way they formed a wonderful complement to what Zarathustra had accomplished for his own civilization and for all civilizations originating from it.
Emphasis has been laid on the fact that Zarathustra directed his gaze to the outer world. Whereas Buddha gave deeply penetrating teachings concerning the ennoblement of man's inner nature, from Zarathustra came sublime teachings relating to the cosmos, in order that men should be enlightened about the world out of which they are born. Buddha's gaze was directed inwards, Zarathustra's to the outer world, with the aim of understanding it through spiritual insight.
Let us now concern ourselves with what Zarathustra bestowed upon humanity from the time when he appeared as the proclaimer of Ahura Mazdao until his life as Nazarathos. The depth and impressiveness of his teachings about the great spiritual laws and beings of the cosmos steadily increased. What he had given to Persian civilization concerning the Spirit of the Sun amounted to no more than indications; but then these indications were amplified and elaborated into the wonderful Chaldean knowledge that is so little understood today — knowledge relating to the cosmos and the spiritual causes governing birth and existence.
If we study these cosmological teachings we find that they reveal one particularly significant characteristic. While teaching the ancient Persian people about the external spiritual causes of the material world, Zarathustra spoke of two powers: Ormuzd and Ahriman or ‘Angra Manyu,’ who oppose one another throughout the universe. But what may be called the element of moral fervor, moral warmth, would not have been found in this teaching. According to the ancient Persian view, man is enmeshed in the whole process of cosmic life. The struggle between Ormuzd and Ahriman is waged in the human soul, and it is because of the battle between these two beings that passions rage in man. There was as yet no knowledge of the inner nature of the soul; all the teaching related to the cosmos. By ‘good’ and ‘evil’ were meant the beneficial or harmful workings which run counter to each other in the cosmos and also come to expression in man. Moral conceptions were not yet included in teaching that was concerned essentially with the outer world. Man was made acquainted with the beings governing the material world, with everything that prevails in the world as a good or as a sinister influence. He felt himself enmeshed in these forces, but the moral element itself in which the soul participates was not yet inwardly experienced. When, for instance, a man was confronted by another of apparently ‘evil’ nature, he felt that forces from the evil beings of the world were streaming through him, that the other man was ‘possessed’ by these evil beings and moreover could not be held to blame for it. Human beings were felt to be entangled in a system of cosmic existence not yet permeated by moral qualities. That was the characteristic feature of a teaching primarily concerned with the outer world — viewed, of course, with the eyes of spirit.
It was for this reason that the Hebrew teachings formed such a wonderful complement to the cosmological knowledge of the Persians, for they introduced the element of morality into revelations given from without, thus making it possible for the concept of guilt, of human guilt, to be imbued with meaning. Before the introduction of the Hebrew teaching all that could be said of an evil man was that he was possessed by evil forces. The proclamation of the Ten Commandments made it necessary to distinguish between men who obeyed the Law and others who did not. Thus there arose the concept of human guilt. How it was introduced into the evolution of humanity can he grasped if we consider a record proving what a tragic uncertainty still prevailed as to the exact meaning of guilt. Study the Book of Job and you will discern the lack of clarity about the concept of guilt — the uncertainty as to what attitude a man should adopt when misfortune befalls him; there you will glimpse the dawning of the new concept of guilt.
Thus the moral code was given to the ancient Hebrew people as a revelation from without — like the revelations concerning the kingdoms of nature. This could only come about because Zarathustra had made provision for the continuation of his work, as I explained, by passing on his etheric body to Moses and his astral body to Hermes. Moses was thereby endowed with the faculty to perceive, as Zarathustra had perceived, the forces at work in the external world; but instead of experiencing neutral forces only, Moses became aware of the moral power holding sway in the world, the power that can take the form of commandment. Hence the element of obedience, submission to the Law, was implicit in the life and culture of the Hebrew people, whereas the ideal contained in the stream represented by Buddha was to give direction to man's inner life in the teachings of the Eightfold Path. But it was necessary that this Hebrew people should be preserved until the right time arrived — the time of the advent of the Christ principle, of which we are about to speak. The Hebrew people had to be ‘screened’ from Buddha's revelation and kept at a less mature stage of culture — if we like to call it so. Hence among the ancient Hebrews there were personalities who could not themselves, as human beings, be bearers of the full powers of an individuality whose mission it was to represent the ‘Law’. A personality such as Buddha could not have appeared within the Hebrew people. The Law could be apprehended only through enlightenment from without — through the fact that Moses bore the etheric body of Zarathustra and was able to receive something that was not born of his own soul. To give birth to the Law from their own hearts was beyond the power of the Hebrew people. But it was essential, as in all other such cases, for the work of Moses to be carried onward and so bear fruit at the right time. Hence it was inevitable that there should arise among the ancient Hebrew people individualities such as the prophets and seers, one of the most important of whom was Elijah. What is there to be said about a personality such as his?
Elijah was destined to be one of the ruling figures in the rĂ©gime inaugurated by Moses. But the folk-substance of the Hebrews could produce no human being able to represent the whole content of the Law of Moses — which could be received only as a revelation from above. What we described as being necessary in the ancient Indian epoch, also as the special nature of the Bodhisattva, had to be repeated again and again in the Hebrew people too: there had to be individualities who were not wholly contained in the human personality; one part of their being was in the earthly personality and the other in the spiritual world. Elijah was an individuality of this nature. Only part of his being was present in his personality on the physical plane; the egohood of Elijah could not penetrate fully into his physical body. He must therefore be called a personality ‘filled with the Spirit’. A figure such as Elijah could not possibly be brought into existence through the normal forces by which other men are placed in the world. In the normal way, the human being develops in the mother's body in such a way  that through physical processes the individuality who has been incarnated previously simply unites with the physical embryo. In the case of an ordinary man everything takes place as it were straightforwardly, without any intervention by forces outside the normal. This could not be so in the case of an individuality such as Elijah. Other forces had to intervene, concerned with the part of the individuality that reached into the spiritual world. His development was necessarily attended by influences working upon him from outside. Hence when such individualities are incarnated they appear as men who are ‘inspired’, ‘impelled by the Spirit’. They appear as ecstatic personalities whose utterances far surpass anything that might issue from their normal intelligence. All the prophets in the Old Testament are figures of this kind. They are ‘impelled by the Spirit’; the ego cannot always account for its actions. The Spirit lives in the personality and is sustained from outside. From time to time such personalities withdraw into solitude; the part of the ego needed by the personality withdraws and inspiration comes from the Spirit. In certain ecstatic, unconscious states such a being is responsive to the inspirations from above. The man who lived as ‘Elijah’ was an outstanding example of this. The words uttered by his mouth and the actions performed by his hands did not proceed only from the part of his being actually present in his personality; they were manifestations of divine-spiritual beings in the background.
When this individuality was born again he was to unite with the body of the child born to Zacharias and Elisabeth. We know from the Gospel itself that John the Baptist is to be regarded as the reborn Elijah. But in him we have to do with an individuality who in his earlier incarnations had not habitually developed or brought fully into operation all the forces present in the normal course of life. In the normal course of life the inner power or force of the ego becomes active while the physical body of the human being is developing in the mother's womb. The Elijah individuality in earlier times had not descended deeply enough to be involved in the inner processes operating here. The ego had not, as in normal circumstances, been stirred into activity by its own forces, but from outside. This was now to happen again. But the ego was now further from the spiritual world and nearer to the Earth, much more closely connected with the Earth than the beings who had formerly guided Elijah. The transition leading to the amalgamation of the Buddha stream with the Zarathustra stream was now to be brought about.
Everything was to be rejuvenated. It was now the Buddha who had to work from outside — the being who had linked himself with the Earth and its affairs and now, in his Nirmanakaya, was united with the Nathan Jesus. This being who on the one side was united with the Earth but on the other withdrawn from it because he was working only in his Nirmanakaya which had soared to realms ‘beyond’ the Earth and hovered above the head of the Nathan Jesus — this being had now to work from outside and stimulate the ego-force of John the Baptist.

Thus it was the Nirmanakaya of Buddha which now stirred the ego-force of John into activity, having the same effect as spiritual forces that had formerly worked upon Elijah. At certain times the being known as Elijah had been rapt in states of ecstasy; then the God spoke, filling his ego with a force which could be communicated to the outer world. Now again a spiritual force was present — the Nirmanakaya of Buddha hovering above the head of the Nathan Jesus; this force worked upon Elisabeth when John was to be born, stimulated within her the embryo of John in the sixth month of pregnancy, and wakened the ego. But being nearer to the Earth, this force now worked as more than an inspiration; it had an actual formative effect upon the ego of John. Under the influence of the visit of her who is there called ‘Mary’, the ego of John the Baptist awoke into activity. The Nirmanakaya of Buddha was here working upon the ego of the former Elijah — now the ego of John the Baptist — wakening it and penetrating right into the physical substance.
What may we now expect?
Even as the words of power once spoken by Elijah in the ninth century before our era were in truth ‘God's words’, and the actions performed by his hands ‘God's actions’, it was now to be the same in the case of John the Baptist, inasmuch as what had been present in Elijah had come to life again. The Nirmanakaya of Buddha worked as an inspiration into the ego of John the Baptist. That which manifested itself to the shepherds and hovered above the head of the Nathan Jesus extended its  power into John the Baptist, whose preaching was primarily the reawakened preaching of Buddha. This fact is in the highest degree noteworthy and cannot fail to make a deep impression upon us when we recall the sermon at Benares wherein Buddha spoke of the suffering in life and the release from it through the Eightfold Path. He often expanded a sermon by saying in effect: ‘Hitherto you have had the teaching of the Brahmans; they ascribe their origin to Brahma himself and claim to be superior to other men because of this noble descent. These Brahmans claim that a man's worth is determined by his descent, but I say to you: Man's worth is determined by what he makes of himself, not by what is in him by virtue of his descent. Judged by the great wisdom of the world, man's worth lies in whatever he makes of himself as an individual!’ — Buddha aroused the wrath of the Brahmans because he emphasized the individual quality in men, saying: ‘Verily it is of no avail to call yourselves Brahmans; what matters is that each one of you through his own personal qualities and efforts should make of himself a purified individual.’ Although not word for word, such was the gist of many of Buddha's sermons. And he would often expand this teaching by showing how, when a man understands the world of suffering, he can feel compassion, can become a comforter and a helper, how he shares the lot of others because he knows that he is feeling the same suffering and the same pain.
The Buddha, now in his Nirmanakaya, shed his radiance upon the Nathan Jesus child and continued his preaching inasmuch as he let the words resound from the mouth of John the Baptist. These words were spoken under the inspiration of the Buddha and it is like a continuation of his former preaching when, for example, John says: ‘You who set so much store by your descent from those who in the service of the spiritual powers are called Children of the Serpent, and plead the Wisdom of the Serpent, who led you to this? You believe that you bring forth fruits of repentance when you merely say: We have Abraham to our father’ ... (now, however, John continues the actual preaching of Buddha) ... ‘Say not that you have Abraham to your father, but be good men, whatever your place in the world. A good man can be raised up from the stones upon which your feet tread. Verily, God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham’ ... And then again he says: ‘He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none!’ Men came to him and asked: ‘Master, what shall we do?’ — exactly as the monks once came to Buddha. All these sayings seem to be like utterances of Buddha himself, or a continuation of them. (See Luke III, 7–12).
Knowing that these beings appear on the physical plane at different turning points of time, we learn to understand the unity of religions and the spiritual proclamations made to mankind. We shall not realize who and what Buddha was by clinging to tradition but by listening to how he actually speaks. Five to six hundred years before our era, Buddha preached the Sermon at Benares, but his voice has not been silenced. He speaks, although no longer incarnated, when he inspires through the Nirmanakaya. From the mouth of John the Baptist we hear what the Buddha had to say six hundred years after he had lived in a physical body.
There we have a real indication of the ‘unity of religions'! We must look for each religion at the right point in the evolution of humanity and seek for what is truly alive in it, not what is dead — for everything continues to develop. This we must learn to realize. To refuse to hear Buddha's utterances from the mouth of John the Baptist is like someone who had seen the seed of a rosebush and later on, when the bush has grown and bears flowers, refuses to believe that the bush grew from the seed, insisting that it is something different! The truth is that what was once alive in the seed now blossoms in the rosebush. And the living essence of the Sermon at Benares blossomed in the preaching of John the Baptist by the Jordan.
We now know something of another individuality of whom the Gospel of St. Luke speaks so impressively. Only by endeavoring to understand each word as it is really meant can knowledge of the Gospel be acquired. St. Luke tells us in his introduction that he will recount information given by ‘seers’. Such persons were able to perceive the conditions revealing themselves gradually in the course of the ages; they did not see merely what was happening on the physical plane in the immediate present. One who saw only that might say: In India, five or six hundred years before our era there lived one called the ‘Buddha’, the son of King Suddhodana, and then, later on, there lived a man known as John the Baptist. Such a person would not, however, find the thread passing from the one to the other, for that is perceptible only in the spiritual world. St. Luke says, however, that his account is based on the evidence of actual ‘seers’. It is not enough merely to accept the words of these sacred records; we must learn to understand their true meaning. But for this purpose we must have clear pictures in our minds of the individualities in question and be cognizant of all the elements that streamed into them.
It has already been said that whatever may be the nature and rank of an individuality who descends to the Earth, his development must be in conformity with the faculties available in the body in which he incarnates, and he must take these faculties and their character into account. If a being of very lofty rank wished to descend to the Earth at the present time, he could not count upon finding bodily conditions other than those pertaining to a human organism of today. Recognition of who this individuality actually is is possible only in the case of a seer who perceives how the delicate threads of destiny are woven into his inmost nature. Such a being, having attained a higher stage of wisdom, must however bring the body to maturity through childhood and onwards in such a way that at a particular point of time what that being was in earlier incarnations can become manifest. If a being is to awaken certain feelings in mankind, the conditions of his earthly incarnation must be such that his body too is able to endure whatever is the object of his mission. In the spiritual world things do not present the same appearance as in the physical world. A being whose mission it is to proclaim the possibility of the healing of pain and release from suffering must himself taste the very depths of suffering in order to find the right words applicable to it in the human sense.
The being who subsequently passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus was the bearer of a message to the whole of mankind. It was a message intended to lead men out of the narrow ties of blood relationship prevailing hitherto. It was not to set aside the tie between father and son, brother and sister, but to add to the love inherent in blood relationship the universal love that flows from soul to soul and transcends all ties of blood. This deepened love that has nothing to do with kinship of blood was to be brought by the being who manifested Himself later on in the body of the Nathan Jesus. For this purpose it was necessary that the individuality who had dwelt since his twelfth year in the body of the Nathan Jesus should himself experience on Earth what it means to feel no ties, no relationship with others through the blood. Then only could this being experience in all its purity the link between man and man. He had first to feel himself free from all ties of blood — free even from the possibility of such ties. The individuality in the Nathan Jesus was to stand before the world not only as a ‘homeless’ man (like the Buddha who left his home for unknown domains) but as one liberated from all family connections and from everything associated with the tie of blood. He had to experience all the pain that can be felt when a man must bid farewell to everything that is near him, and stand alone; he had to speak from the experience of utter loneliness and the abandonment of all family ties. Who was this being?
We know that he was the being who until about his twelfth year had lived in the body of the Solomon Jesus, his father and mother having descended from the Solomon line. His father had died early, so the boy was orphaned on the father's side. Besides himself there were brothers and sisters in this family, and he lived with them as long as he (Zarathustra) was in the body of the Solomon Jesus. In his twelfth year he left this family, gave up mother, brothers, and sisters, and passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus. Then the mother of the Nathan Jesus died and, later on, the father too. Thus when the Zarathustra individuality went out to work in the world he had parted from everything connected with ties of blood. Not only was he completely orphaned, not only had he given up brothers and sisters, but as Zarathustra he had to forgo ever founding a family and having descendants. For he had abandoned not only his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, but even his own body, and had passed into another body — that of the Nathan Jesus. This being could then prepare the way for One still more sublime, who later on, in the body of the Nathan Jesus, entered upon His great mission — the proclamation of Universal Love. And when the mother and brothers came and the people said to Him: ‘Thy mother and thy brethren are without and seek for thee’, then, from the depths of His soul and without danger of being misunderstood or of wronging filial love, He could utter the words: ‘That they are not!’ ... for Zarathustra had relinquished even the body that was connected with this family. Then, pointing to those who were with Him in free community of soul, He could say: "Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (See Mark, III, 35.)
The words of the scriptures are to be taken literally! In order that one being might proclaim universal love He had actually to be incarnated in a form wherein He could experience the abandonment of everything that could be founded upon ties of blood.
Our feelings go out to this being as if He were humanly near us — a being who, having descended from sublime heights of spirit, underwent human experiences and human suffering. The more spiritual our conception of Him the truer it will be, and the more fervently will our hearts and souls acclaim Him!


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