Friday, August 31, 2018
Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sonburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity
You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
The angels form pictures in man's astral body and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant. If we are able to scrutinize these pictures, it becomes evident that they are woven in accordance with quite definite impulses and principles. Forces for the future evolution of humankind are contained in them. If we watch the angels carrying out this work of theirs — strange as it sounds, one has to express it in this way — it is clear that they have a very definite plan for the future configuration of social life on Earth; their aim is to engender in the astral bodies of human beings such pictures as will bring about definite conditions in the social life of the future.
People may shy away from the notion that angels want to call forth in them ideals for the future, but it is so all the same. And indeed in forming these pictures the angels work on a definite principle, namely, that in the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy. An impulse of brotherhood in the absolute sense, unification of the human race in brotherhood rightly understood — this is to be the governing principle of the social conditions in physical existence.
That is the one principle in accordance with which the angels form the pictures in man's astral body.
But there is a second impulse in the work of the angels. The angels have certain objectives in view not only in connection with the outer social life but also with man's life of soul. Through the pictures they inculcate into the astral body their aim is that in future time every human being shall see in each and all of his fellow human beings a hidden divinity.
Quite clearly, then, according to the intention underlying the work of the angels, things are to be very different in the future. Neither in theory nor in practice shall we look only at man's physical qualities, regarding him as a more highly developed animal, but we must confront every human being with the full realization that in him something is revealing itself from the divine foundations of the world, revealing itself through flesh and blood. To conceive man as a picture revealed from the spiritual world, to conceive this with all the earnestness, all the strength, and all the insight at our command — this is the impulse laid by the angels into the pictures.
Rudolf Steiner: "The preachers of the Catholic Church never tire in their professions of faith in the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But of what use is it to believe in the Christ, the Son of the living God, if one grasps Him only with dead thinking, that is, if He becomes a dead ideal in one's own thoughts? Our need today is not to call on the Christ, the Son of the living God, but to call on Christ, the living Son of God, which means to call on the Christ who is living now in the new revelations He is sending to mankind."
Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given on January 5, 1920:
"To demand that we become again like people of past millennia is like expecting adults to play like children. No, to satisfy the deepest needs of our soul, we can neither go back to the civilizations of thousands of years ago nor can we call for Ex Oriente Lux without falling into decadence. As Western people we must not call for the light to come to us from the Orient. The light that is there now has undergone many metamorphoses, and we must not fall prey to the illusion that this spirituality we can find in the Orient nowadays can influence our civilization in a beneficial way.
Indeed, it was the worst kind of decadence when a theosophical movement appeared in response to the religious and cultural needs of Western civilization--of the machine age, which has developed a mechanistic worldview that cannot satisfy us--and then turned to the region that can offer us only the decadent remnants of the ancient Oriental cultural-spiritual life. The attempt to incorporate Indian culture now into Western theosophy reveals the extent of the contemporary spiritual barrenness. Our civilization lacks creative forces in its own cultural-spiritual life. It could achieve success only in technology but proves itself unable to find its own way into the realm the soul needs if it is to understand our true soul-spiritual essence.
This, by the way, is an all too prevalent trend today. Many who are dissatisfied with modern Christianity try to find out what it was like in earlier times. They want to know what the first Christians did and want to imitate them. These people want to return to the way things were then, as though we had made no progress since then and as though we did not need a new understanding of Christianity. Indeed, we see everywhere the signs of barrenness and lack of creativity. That is not what spiritual science wants; it does not want to borrow anything from ancient cultures or from their modern successors."
Source: Social Issues: Meditative Thinking and the Threefold Social Order, pp. 28-29
Rudolf Steiner, the conclusion of a lecture given July 24, 1921, the last in a series of three lectures titled "Man as a Being of Sense and Perception":
...It is a question of grasping how the material, in its emergence from the spiritual, can be regarded as bearing witness to the spiritual world.
Again — and today I can only go as far as this — if you grasp the connection between the birth of memory and the forces of growth, you will thereby recognise an interplay between what we call material and what in later life, from seven to eight years of age onwards, develops as the soul-spiritual life. It really is a fact that what shows itself later in more abstract intellectual form as the faculty of memory is active, to begin with, in growth. It is really the same force. The same method of observation must be applied to this as is applied, let us say, when we speak of latent heat and free heat. Heat which is free, which is released from its latent condition, behaves externally in the physical world like the force which, after having been the source of the phenomena of growth in the earliest years of childhood, then manifests itself in the inner life as the force of memory. What lies behind the phenomena of growth in earliest childhood is the same thing as what later makes its appearance in its own proper form as the faculty of memory.
I developed this more fully in the course of lectures given here in the Goetheanum last autumn. [* Grenzen der Naturerkenntnis, 27th Sept. to 2nd Oct., 1920 (Translation not yet published.)] You will see how one can discover along these lines an intimate connection between the soul-spiritual and the bodily-physical, and how therefore we have in the faculty of memory something which on the one hand appears to us as of a soul-spiritual nature, and on the other hand, when it appears in other cosmic connections, manifests as the force of growth.
We find just the opposite when we consider the human capacity for love, which shows itself on the one hand to be entirely bound up with the bodily nature, and which on the other hand we can grasp, exactly like the faculty of memory, as the most soul-like function. So that in fact — this I will explain more fully in later lectures — in memory and love you have capacities in which you can experience the interplay between the spiritual and the bodily, and which you can also associate with the whole relationship between man and the world.
In the case of memory we have already done this, for we have related ideation with previous earth-lives, and the faculty of memory with the present earth-life. In later lectures we shall see that we can experience the same thing as regards the capacity for love. One can show how it is developed in the present earth-life, but passes over through the life between death and rebirth into the next earthly life.
Why are we making a point of this? Because to-day man needs to be able to make the transition from the soul-spiritual to the bodily-physical. In the soul-spiritual we experience morality; within the physical-bodily we experience natural necessity. As things are seen to-day, if one is honest in each sphere one has to admit that there is no bridge between them. And I said yesterday that because there is no such bridge, people make a distinction between what they call real knowledge, based upon natural causality, and the content of pure faith, which is said to be concerned with the world of morality — because natural causality on the one hand, and the life of the soul-spirit on the other, exist side by side without any connection. But the whole point is that in order to recover a fully human consciousness, we need to build a bridge between these two.
Above all we must remember that the moral world cannot exist without postulating freedom; the natural world cannot exist without necessity. Indeed, there could be no science if there were not this necessity. If one phenomenon were not of necessity caused by another in natural continuity, everything would be arbitrary, and there could be no science. An effect could arise from a cause that one could not predict! We get science when we try to see how one thing proceeds from another, that one thing proceeds from another. But if this natural causality is universal, then moral freedom is impossible; there can be no such thing. Nevertheless the consciousness of this moral freedom within the realm of soul and spirit, as a fact of direct experience, is present in every man.
The contradiction between what the human being experiences in the moral constitution of his soul and the causality of nature is not a logical one, but a contradiction in life. This contradiction is always with us as we go through the world; it is part of our life. The fact is that, if we honestly admit what we are faced with, we shall have to say that there must be natural causality, there must be natural necessity, and we as men are ourselves in the midst of it. But our inner soul-spiritual life contradicts it. We are conscious that we can make resolutions, that we can pursue moral ideals which are not given to us by natural necessity. This is a contradiction which is a contradiction of life, and anyone who cannot admit that there are such contradictions simply fails to grasp life in its universality. But in saying this we are saying something very abstract. It is really only our way of expressing what we encounter in life. We go through life feeling ourselves all the time actually at variance with external nature. It seems as if we are powerless, as if we must feel ourselves at variance with ourselves. To-day we can feel the presence of these contradictions in many men in a truly tragic way.
For example, I knew a man who was quite full of the fact that there is necessity in the world in which man himself is involved. Theoretically, of course, one can admit such a necessity and at the same time not trouble much about it with one's entire manhood. Then one goes through the world as a superficial person and one will not be inwardly filled with tragedy. Be that as it may, I knew a man who said, “Everywhere there is necessity and we men are placed within it. There is no doubt about it, science forces us to a recognition of this necessity. But at the same time necessity allows bubbles to arise in us which delude us with hopes of a free soul-life. We have to see through that delusion, we have to look upon it as hot air. This too is a necessity.”
That is man's frightful illusion. That is the foundation of pessimism in human nature. The man who has little idea of how deeply such a thing can work into the human soul will not be able to enter into the feeling that this contradiction in life, which is absolutely real, can undermine the whole soul, and can lead to the view that life in its inmost nature is a misfortune. Confronted by the conflict between scientific certainty and the certitude of faith, it is only thoughtlessness and lack of sensitivity that prevent men from coming to such inner tragedy in their lives. For this tragic attitude towards life is really the one that goes with the plight of soul to which mankind can come to-day.
But whence comes the impotence which results in such a tragic attitude to life! It comes from the fact that civilised humanity has for centuries allowed itself to become entangled in certain abstractions, in intellectualism. The most this intellectualism can say is that natural necessity deludes us by strange methods with a feeling of freedom, but that there is no freedom. It exists only in our ideas. We are powerless in the face of necessity.
Then comes the important question — is that truest? And now you see that the lectures I have been giving for weeks actually all lead up to the question: “Are we really powerless? Are we really so impotent in the face of this contradiction?” Remember how I said that we have in our lives not only an ascending development, but a declining one; that our intellectual life is not bound up with the forces of growth, but with the forces of death, the forces of decay; that in order to develop intelligence we need to die. You will remember how I showed here several weeks ago the significance of the fact that certain elements with specific affinities and valencies — carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulphur — combine to form protein. They do so not by ordinary chemical combination, but on the, contrary by becoming utterly chaotic. You will then see that all these studies are leading up to this — to make it clear to you that what I have told you is not just a theoretical contradiction, but an actual process in human nature. We are not here merely in order, through living, to sense this contradiction, but our inner life is a continual process of destruction of what develops as causality in outer nature. We men really dissolve natural causality within ourselves. What outside is physical process, chemical process, is developed within us in a reverse direction, towards the other side. Of course we shall see this clearly only if we take into consideration the upper and the lower man, if we grasp by means of the upper man what emerges from metabolism by way of contra-mechanisation, contra-physicalisation, contra-chemicalisation. If we try to grasp the contra-materialisation in the human being, then we do not have merely a logical, theoretical contradiction in ourselves, but we have the real process — we have the process of human development, of human becoming, as the thing in us that itself counteracts natural causality, and human life as consisting in a battle against it. And the expression of this struggle, which goes on all the while to dissolve the physical synthesis, the chemical synthesis, to analyse it again — the expression of this analytic life in us is summed up in the awareness: “I am free.” What I have just put before you in a few words — the study of the human process of becoming as a process of combat against natural causality, as a reversal of natural causality — we shall make the subject of forthcoming lectures.
Rudolf Steiner, Vienna, June 5, 1922:
Nowadays, if you start to discuss, with someone who is interested in these matters, the possibility of achieving a knowledge of spiritual life in conjunction with the sensuous and physical world, you will generally meet with a sympathetic reception. At any rate, the question will be raised: Are there paths by which man can reach some kind of spiritual knowledge? even though it may often turn out that the only knowledge of a spiritual world allowed is one that takes the form of general concepts and ideas, a vague pantheism perhaps or a conception of life reminiscent of mysticism. If however you should then attempt, as it became necessary for me to do in my book Occult Science, to describe a real cosmology, a science of the origin and development of the world in specific terms, discussion with a rationalist is usually at an end. He reacts strongly to the suggestion that anyone today might be in a position, on some epistemological basis or other, to make a statement about a spiritual origin of the world, about forces operating spiritually in the world's development, and about the possibility that this development, after having passed through a sensuous and physical phase, might lead back once more into a spiritual form of existence. The reaction of the rationalist to such a suggestion, implicit in the specific descriptions in Occult Science, for example, is to avoid having anything to do with someone who makes claims of this kind. He will think that, if a man sets out to make specific statements about such matters, he is probably on the verge of losing his reason; at least, we cannot compromise ourselves by becoming involved in discussing these details.
It is naturally impossible, in a single lecture, to present any details of cosmology as they follow from the philosophy of life I am advocating. Instead, I should like today to try and show you how spiritual science can arrive at a cosmology and a knowledge of the spiritual impulses underlying the world's development. The reproach that is usually levelled at anyone who now attempts such a task is that of anthropomorphism, that is of taking features of human mental life and projecting them — in accordance with one's wishes or some other predilections or prejudices — onto the cosmos. A closer examination of the way in which the philosophy of life presented here attains its cosmological results, however, should be enough to demonstrate that there cannot be the slightest question of anthropomorphism. On the contrary, this philosophy seeks its data about the world and its development through a spiritual cognition that is just as objective as the scientific study of nature.
You will have gathered, from the lectures I have given so far, what the view of the world I am advocating aims at in its research methods. On the one hand, it desires to preserve everything that humanity has acquired over the last three or four centuries in scientific conscientiousness and a sure and careful method of seeking truth. In particular, this view of life certanly does not wish to exceed the limits of natural knowledge, in so far as this is appropriate, but to observe carefully where the limits of purely natural knowledge are located. The existence of such limits is much discussed today, and has been for a long time. We can say that the opinions of trained natural scientists on this subject today are founded on notions that more philosophically inclined minds derive from Kant, and other minds, to whom a more popular treatment appeals, from Schopenhauer and others. A great deal of material bearing on this point could be given.
Now it is probably true to say that Kant and Schopenhauer, and all those who follow in their wake, are dangerous guides to the discernment of the limits of natural knowledge, because these thinkers, very enticingly as I would say, stopped short at a certain point in their consideration of the human cognitive faculty and the capacities of the human psyche. They drew the line at a certain point; and their approach to this point is extraordinarily shrewd. Yet the fact remains that, as soon as we become aware of the need to consider man as a whole and to take into account all that can follow from man's physical and spiritual organism in the shape of cognitive activity and inner experience, we shall also realize that a one-sided critique of the cognitive faculty can only lead to one-sided conclusions. If we wish to examine the relation of man to the world, in order to establish whether there is a path that leads from man to knowledge of the world, we must take him as a whole and consider him in his entire being.
It is from this point of view that I should now like to raise the question: Assuming that the limits of our knowledge of nature, which scientists too have been discussing since Du Bois-Reymond (though they are viewed very differently today from the way he saw them half a century ago), did not exist, what would be man's position in the world? Assuming that man's theoretical cognitive faculty, by which he connects his concepts with observations and the results of experiments in order to arrive at the laws of the universe, could also penetrate without difficulty into the organic realm; if it could advance as far as life, there would be little reason why it should stop short of the higher modes of existence — the realms of soul and spirit. Assuming therefore that the ordinary consciousness we employ in the sciences and work with in ordinary life were able at all times not only to approach the outside of life, but also to penetrate below the surface of things to their inner being: if there were thus no limit of knowledge, what sort of constitution would a man need? Well, his relation to the world would be such that his entire being, his inmost experience, would be constantly entering into everything with its spiritual antennae. Though this may appear paradoxical to some people, a dispassionate observer of life and of the relationship of man to the world will realize: a being whose ordinary everyday consciousness was unlimited would inevitably lack the capacity to love.
And if we reflect on the significance of this capacity for our whole life, and on what we are in life because we can love, we shall conclude: on this mortal earth we should not be men, in the sense in which we must in fact be men, if we did not have love. But love demands that we should meet another individual, whatever realm of nature it may belong to, as self-contained individuals. We must not invade this other individual with our clear and lucid thinking; on the contrary, at the very moment when we develop love, our essence must become active — that part of us which is beyond clear and pellucid concepts! The moment we were able to invade the other individual with clear and lucid concepts, love would die. Since man must be a creature of love by virtue of his task on earth, and since when man has a certain capacity it conditions his whole being, we can conclude: man definitely needs limits to his knowledge of the outside world, and must not penetrate beyond them if, within his ordinary consciousness, he is to fulfil his task here on earth. The property that enables him to be a creature of love has its obverse side in his ordinary knowledge, which has to stop at the limit that is set for us in order that we may be creatures capable of love.
This is just an outline that each individual can fill out for himself; even so, it reveals something that has certain consequences. It shows, for example, that we must go forward from the premises of Kantian philosophy, and look at man as a whole, inhabiting life as a living creature. This is the first thing that the view of the world I am advocating has to say about the limits of scientific knowledge — and we shall be hearing more about them.
Here is one of the two guiding principles for any view of life and the world that is to be taken seriously today. The other, to which I have already drawn attention in the last few days, can be described by saying: any view of life and the world that is to be taken seriously today must not lose itself in nebulous mysticism. It is a fact that even noble minds at the present time, observing that natural science is limited and cannot provide us with a springboard into the spiritual world, throw themselves into the arms of mysticism, especially the older forms of humanity's mystical endeavour. Yet in face of the other kinds of knowledge man requires* today, this certainly cannot be the right way. Mysticism seeks, by looking within man, to reach the actual foundations of existence. But once again, human knowledge is limited when it comes to looking within man. Assuming that man were capable of looking into himself without limit, to the point where the deepest essence of human nature is manifest, where man is in touch with the eternal springs of existence and links his personal existence with that of the cosmos: what would he then have to do without? — Those who gain great inner satisfaction from mysticism often summon up the most varied things from within themselves. I have already indicated that what is brought up in this way ultimately turns out, on closer examination by a true student of the soul, to rest on some external observation. This observation sinks into subconscious depths, is permeated by feeling and will and organic process, and then appears again in an altered form. Anything observed can undergo a transformation or metamorphosis so great that the mystic will believe he is drawing from the depths of his soul something that must demonstrate the eternal foundations of the soul itself. Even such outstanding mystics as Meister Eckhart or Johannes Tauler are not completely free from the error that creeps in when we mistake altered concepts of ordinary consciousness for independent revelations of the human soul.
Objective reflection on this state of affairs, however, enables us to answer the question: What would man have to do without if, in ordinary consciousness, he could see right into himself at any moment? He would have to do without something that is essential for the well-ordered existence of our soul: a reliable memory.
For what is the relation of memory to the claims of mysticism? What I am now going to outline in a rather popular way I could also present quite scientifically. But we only need an explanation, and this can be conveyed in popular terms. When we observe the outside world and inwardly transform what we experience there as whole men, so that it can later reappear as memory, the spiritual result of our external observation actually falls on something like a mirror within us. This is a simile, but at the same time it is more than a simile. Impressions from outside cannot be allowed to stimulate us so much that we carry them down into our deepest self. It must be possible for outside stimuli to be reflected. Our organism, our human essence must behave like a reflecting device. Ought we, then, to break through this reflecting device in order to reach what lies behind the mirror?
That is what the mystic is trying to do, without knowing it. But we need our reliable, well-ordered memory. If there are any gaps in it, as far back into our childhood as we can remember, we shall fall victim to pathological mental states. Man must be so constituted that he retains the experiences that come from outside. He cannot therefore be so constituted that he can penetrate directly into his deepest self. If we make the mystic's attempt to penetrate into our innermost self with ordinary consciousness, we shall only reach the reflecting device. And it is right, from the point of view of our humanity, that we should there come up against the concepts we have absorbed from outside. Here again, we must look at the whole man, as he needs to be if he is to possess a memory, in order to see that mysticism is impossible for ordinary consciousness.
There are thus two limits to ordinary consciousness: a limit of natural knowledge, in relation to the outside, physical and sensuous world; and a limit in relation to mystical endeavours. And it is just from a clear insight into these two limits that there can in turn arise that other endeavour I have described here as befitting a modern search for the spiritual world. I mean the endeavour to draw from the soul dormant powers of cognition, so that by attaining a different form of consciousness we can see into the spiritual world.
With the kinds of knowledge I have been speaking of in the last few days, we can look at man as a creature capable of love and as a creature capable of memory. When we do so, we shall recognize that ordinary consciousness (operating through the senses, the intellect and the logical faculty) must call a halt in face of the outside world: for it is only by treating itself as a mere instrument for systematizing the outside world that it can become capable of developing further and creating that vitalized thinking of which I have spoken in previous lectures.
When we examine our own reaction to nature by means of this vitalized thinking, we find that, at the very moment when we have developed our logical faculty to the point where it provides a means of systematizing external phenomena, our ordinary consciousness is extinguished in the act of cognition. However clear our consciousness is up to a certain point in a given process of knowing nature, at this point it really goes over in part into a state of sleep, into the subconscious. Why is this? It is because at this point there must come into operation the faculty that diffuses something more than abstract thinking into the world around us: one that carries our being out into it.
For inasmuch as we love, our relationship to the world around us is not one of cognition but one of reality, a real relationship of being. Only by developing vital thinking are we able to carry over our experience into the reality of things. We pour out our vitalized thoughts; follow up the beginnings of spiritual life that exist outside (in the shape of spiritual world-rhythm and appearance); and, by cultivating empty consciousness as I have described, advance further and further into the spiritual world, which is linked with the physical and sensuous one. Compared with ordinary consciousness, we feel, in a super-sensible act of cognition of this kind, as if we have been awakened from sleep. We eavesdrop on our being as it becomes a living thing.
Here is something that can make a more shattering impression on the seeker after spiritual experience than anything he can obtain by repeating the experience of the profoundest mystic.
More moving than the latter's absorption in his inner self is the moment of realizing that, at a certain instant of higher cognition, man must pour out his own self as being into the outside world, and that the act of cognition transforms mere knowledge into real life, into a real symbiosis with the outside world.
At first, however, this is linked with an appreciable intensification of the sense of self. What happens is something like this: in ordinary cognition of the outside world, our ego goes as far as the frontiers of nature. Here, the ego is repulsed. We feel surrounded on all sides by psychic walls, so to speak. This in turn has repercussions on the sense of self. The sense of self has its own strength, and it gets the right temper precisely through the fact that, along with this feeling of something like confinement, there is intermingled that self-surrender to the world and its creatures that comes of love. In super-sensible cognition, the self is made even stronger, and there is, we may say, a danger that it will transform the love that rightfully exists on earth into a selfish submersion in things, that it will effusively thrust and insinuate itself into things. By so doing, the self will expand.
That is why, in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, I attach so much weight to the preparatory exercises. These exercises are aimed at self-discipline in relation to the sense of self, and at helping us to develop the necessary capacity for love in ordinary life and ordinary consciousness, before attempting to move into the super-sensible world by means of higher knowledge. We must be mentally, physically and spiritually healthy in this respect, before we can enter the spiritual world in a way that is healthy. If we are, then no one will be able to raise the more or less philistine objection that there is something uncomfortable about listening in to our own capacity for love. To do so makes a shattering impression, it is true. We see ourselves as never before in ordinary consciousness. What we attain in higher cognition, however, does not incorporate itself into the memory — if it did, we should be capable of marching through life fondly contemplating our own capacity for love, which would make us inadequate as people. And, remembering this, you will know what to make of these demands on super-sensible knowledge.
So much for the relation of super-sensible knowledge to the capacity for love, from an intellectual standpoint. But what do we experience as a result of it?
It is clear from what I have said already that we effuse our intensified self into our surroundings. In this way the self moves forward to the spiritual sphere, and we now come up against the curious fact that, by making ourselves increasingly able to enter into the outside world, we actually arrive at knowledge of our psychic and our spiritual self.
Goethe's instinct in rejecting the knowledge of self that results from brooding introspection was, I would say, a healthy one. He had hard things to say about this kind of mystical self-knowledge. Man can attain true self-knowledge only if, by strengthening his otherwise dormant powers of knowledge, he attains the capacity to explore with his self the outside world. It is in the world outside that man finds his real knowledge of self! We must learn to reach a true knowledge of the world, in the modern sense, by turning many familiar concepts almost back to front. And so it is with the concept of self-knowledge: look out at the world, travel further and further into the distance; in strengthening, by the development of cognitive powers, your capacity to explore these distances, you will find your real self. We can therefore say: the cosmos allows us to penetrate it to gain super-sensible knowledge; and what it gives back to us as a result of this penetration is precisely our knowledge of self.
Let us look at this other aspect of experience, which is sometimes sought by a false mystical path. I have shown how the human will can be developed, and how it is possible to develop dormant powers. The will can be developed to such an extent that the whole man becomes a kind of sense-organ, or rather spirit-organ — becomes, that is, as transparent in soul and spirit as the human eye is transparent. We need only recall how selfless (in a material sense) the human eye must be to act as the organ of sight. If the eye were to fill with self-assertive material, our field of vision would at once grow dim. Our entire human nature must come to be like this, on the spiritual plane. Our entire being, soul and spirit, must become transparent. With what is vital in our will, we can then enter the spiritual world even during our earthly existence. There now supervenes, however, what I already hinted at yesterday: by seeing the spiritual world, we are enabled to comprehend our inner self. And, as I explained yesterday, when as physical and sensuous beings we confront the outside world, we enter into its sensuous and physical phenomena with our entire being, and carry away with us psychic memory-images. Indeed, our soul is made up of these images. We can say therefore: what is physical and sensuous without is seen as semblance within. Conversely, I would say: in attaining the capacity to look out, through the spirit-organ that is our self, into the outside world as a spiritual one, with spiritual entities and events, we perceive our own inner physical body. We learn to know the substance of our lungs, heart and other organs. The spirituality of the outside world is reflected by the physical nature within us, just as the physical outside world is reflected by our spiritual, abstract nature.
But the way thus opened up to us of learning to know ourselves by contemplating the outside world, turns out to be a very concrete one. We come to know the place of the individual organs in man's total substance. Gradually, we learn to perceive the harmony between the individual processes in these organs.
The first discovery we make is as follows: what the mystic is angling for in his clouded waters turn out, ultimately, to be transformed memories; but they often contain an admixture of something produced by an organic activity. He doesn't know this, of course. He believes that he is piercing the internal mirror that underlies memory. He is not piercing it. The processes of our organic being beat like waves upon the other side of the mirror. The mystic is not aware of what is really going on: he is only aware of a change in the memories that are reflected. Without becoming guilty of philistinism in the process, we are forced to reduce much that is beautiful, poetic, mystical, to prose and say: much that this or that mystic has drawn up from his soul in this way is not the expression of spiritual existence, but only a consequence of the surge of inner organic processes. Wonderful mystical accounts of ancient and recent times — from which those who take pleasure in such things can gain an extraordinarily poetic impression — are in the last analysis, for anyone who can see things objectively, no more than the expression of inner processes in human nature itself. It seems philistine to have to say: something mystical makes its appearance; it strikes us as poetic, and yet to anyone who understands, it represents the impact of certain vital processes on the memories. For the serious seeker after knowledge, it does not become entirely valueless on that account. For the truth in anything that is said does not reside in the way in which it is presented, which may be agreeable to limited minds, but rather in the fact that a genuine attempt is being made to get nearer to the root of the matter.
The nebulous mystic remains caught in ordinary consciousness. The man who goes beyond this and, after first ensuring his psychic health by means of preparatory exercises that emphasize the formation of a healthy memory, pierces this mirror of memory and really looks into himself, will see there the effects of wide-ranging processes, originating in the spiritual outside world and continuing still in the spiritual world. In this way we come to know man, and to say to ourselves: what the abstract idealist may regard as something base in man, because he is looking at it only physiologically or anatomically, from the outside — man's inner organism — is a wonderful consequence of the entire cosmos.
And when we really come to know this inner organism, this is what we discover: when we look into our spiritual self and go back in memory over much that we have experienced in life, we can then, from what we revive within us at a congenial hour, conjure up these experiences before our mind's eye, if only as shades. From the image-content our soul has absorbed from the outside world, we can once again conjure up this world before our soul in a way that satisfies us. If we also learn to know our comprehensive inner organism, and learn how its individual parts are spiritually derived from the cosmos, our entire being, as we now perceive it, will present itself as a record of cosmic memories. We look into ourselves, not now with the eye of the nebulous mystic, but with an awakened “mind's eye,” and can perceive the nature of our lungs, our heart, the whole of the rest of our organism, looked at spiritually, inwardly. All this presents itself to us as memory of the world, recorded in man just as our memory of the life between birth and the present is recorded in the soul. There now appears in us what we can call knowledge of man as a memory of the world, a replica of the world's development and of the course of the cosmos.
The first thing to do is to familiarize yourselves with the detailed exercises that must be undertaken before man arrives at such a knowledge of self — not the brooding self-knowledge of ordinary introspection, as it is called, but the self-knowledge that sees in each of our internal organs something like a combination of spiritual elements resulting from certain spiritual processes in the cosmos. Once they have understood this aspect of man, people will no longer accuse us of transposing what is in our soul anthropomorphically into the world, in order to explain the world in a spiritual way. Instead, they will say: We first attempt, cautiously and seriously, to penetrate inside man, and there will then be revealed to us the cosmos, just as when we look at memories the sum of personal experience reveals itself.
Such things may appear paradoxical to present-day consciousness, and yet this consciousness is on the way to apprehending them. There is a longing to follow up certain trends of thought that are already there. When men do so — a certain amount of practice is, of course, required — the thoughts that lie along these lines will develop more and more into vitalized thoughts. And when, in addition to this, the will has been developed, men will enter increasingly upon this kind of self-knowledge and see that, whilst on the one hand the continual advance of the self into the outside world leads to knowledge of self, penetration into the depths of man's nature leads outward from man to knowledge of the world.
To cultivate a disinterested approach to these matters, it is necessary to look at the nature of man in a way that is different from that usually adopted today. People today dissect man's bone system, muscle system and nervous system, and take the results as a definition of his physical being. They can then envisage man as if he were a creature of solid material constituents. Yet everyone today knows that, essentially, man is not made up of solid constituents: for the most part — some ninety per cent, in fact — he is a column of water. Everyone today knows that the air I have just breathed in was previously outside in the world, and that the air I now have functioning within me will later be outside once more and belong to the world. And finally, everyone can comprehend that the human organism has a continuous exchange of heat. When we look at man in this way, we gradually escape from our illusion of his solidity. We recognize it as an illusion, and yet we cling to it in our soul, as if believing that man resembled the rough sketch anatomy gives of him. With equal justification, we shall come to regard the liquid in man as part of his being — what vibrates, surges and creates in man the liquid being. We shall come to perceive that the air in man is also part of his being. And finally, we may come to comprehend that the air inside us that vibrates, surges, moves up and down, diffuses itself through the currents in our veins and functions within us, is warmed in some places and cooled in others.
The soul-spiritual element that we carry within us today in this more or less abstract form suffers from a marked semblance character, so that we can really only perceive it from within, as we say. Nor can we escape from this perception from within by looking at what physiology and anatomy tell us about man. All the magnificent results that ordinary science has achieved present us with a solid shape of complex structure; yet it is one quite different in kind from what we observe within us when we visualize our thinking, feeling and volition, and we cannot find a bridge from one to the other. We can watch the struggles of psychologists to establish a relationship between what they comprehend in its abstractness and semblance nature — the only way that is open to their inward perception — and what exists outside. The two things are so far apart that we cannot establish a connection between them directly, through ordinary consciousness. But if we proceed without prejudice and fix our eyes, not upon an illusion of the solid man, but upon man as a being of liquid, a being of air and heat, then by a process of empathy with ourselves we shall become aware of the flow of heat and cold in the currents of our respiratory circulation, if we provide a basis on which we can do so.
We can reach such a basis by the path of higher knowledge as I have tried to describe it in the last few days. In learning to apprehend the air that vibrates inside us, we remain more or less within the physical realm; but when we apprehend it and then transfer the vitalized thinking that detects something of reality within, the bridge is established for us. And if we become aware of man down to the details of his temperature variations, and condense the psychic element until, out of its abstractness, it attains to reality, we shall find the bridge.
Condensed in this way, the life of the soul can link itself with rarefied physical experience. When we begin to penetrate ourselves and thereby perceive how vitalized thought moves in our being of air, if I may so express myself, in which there are certain temperature variations, we gradually see how in fact differences of thought can also operate in our human organism. Thus, a sympathetic thought, for example the verdict: “Yes indeed, the tree is green,” does in fact induce a state of heat, whereas a thought in which antipathy is present, a negative judgment for example, has a chilling effect on our air-heat substance.
In this way, we see how the psychic element continues to vibrate and create through finer materiality into denser materiality. We find it possible to direct our path of knowledge into the human organism too in such a way that we start with the psychic and go on into the material.
This in turn makes it possible for us to advance further and further towards what I have just been describing: an inner knowledge of the human organism. For the psyche will not unveil itself to us until we can trace the various levels of materiality — water, air and fire — in the individual organs. We must first condense the psychic element; only then shall we reach man's physical nature and come in turn, by passing through this, to the spiritual basis of our physical organism. Just as, when we sink shafts into ourselves with the aid of memory, we discover the laid-up experiences of our individual existence on earth, so too, in thus descending into the whole man, we shall find the spiritual element that has come down from the spiritual world through conception, foetal development and so on. In clothing itself in us, with what it acquires from the earth, this spiritual element becomes world-memory. We find the cosmos stored up as recollection inside us. And we thus find it possible — exactly as in ordinary consciousness we can remember the individual experience of personal existence — to survey the cosmos through inward contemplation.
You will perhaps ask: Yes, but when we get back to very early states of the earth by means of this world-memory, how can we avoid the danger of a general description of spirit usurping the concrete world-recollection? Once again, we only need to make a comparison with ordinary memory. Because our memory is well ordered, we shall not, in feeling some experience that has taken place ten years before float to the surface, refer it to events that have only just taken place. The content of the memory itself helps us to date it correctly. Similarly, when we understand our organism aright, we find that each of its separate parts points to the relevant moment in the world's development. In the last analysis, what natural science produces theoretically by extending its observations from the present back into earlier ages can only properly be completed by man's self-contemplation, which leads to a real world-recollection, a world-memory. Otherwise, we shall always be condemned to fall into curious errors when we construct hypothetical theories of world-evolution.
What I am about to say may sound trivial, but it will illustrate my point. The so-called Kant-Laplace theory, now of course modified — the theory of how the individual bodies in the solar system split off from a nebula in the universe — is commonly illustrated by taking a drop of oil, making a hole in a circular piece of card, fastening a pin through it, and rotating the drop of oil by means of the pin. Individual droplets separate off and continue to revolve round the main drop. A miniature solar system forms, and from the standpoint of the ordinary scientist one can say: The same thing, on a larger scale, took place out there in space! But something else is also true: anyone demonstrating something like this, to illustrate the origin of our solar system, would have to take all the factors into account; he would thus have to take into account the teacher standing there and rotating the drop of oil. He would have to place an enormous teacher out in space, to rotate the cloud. This point, however, has been forgotten in the experiment I have described. Elsewhere in life, it is a very fine thing to forget the self; but in an experiment, in illustrating important and serious problems, one must not forget such things. Well, the philosophy of life I am advocating does not forget them. It accepts what is justified in natural science, but also adds what can be seen in the spirit. And here, of course, we do not find an enormous individual, but rather a spiritual world, which has to be superimposed on the material development. We thereby permeate the Kant-Laplace primal nebula which, perhaps rightly, has been posited, with the spiritual entities and forces operative in it. And we permeate what will become of the earth in the so-called heat-death, of which present-day science speaks, with spiritual entities and forces. After the heat-death, these will then carry the spiritual element out into other worlds, just as the spiritual element in man is carried out into other worlds when the body disintegrates into its earthly elements. In this way we attain something significant for our time.
I have demonstrated, I think, that what is ordinarily apprehended only in abstract cognition — the spiritual element, which cannot be reconciled with the material — is infinitely far removed mentally from matter. What has followed from this for our entire cultural life? Because in ordinary consciousness we are unable to reconcile the spiritual and the material, we have a purely material view of the world's history: we form concepts of a purely physical process, with a beginning conceived in purely physical terms, in accordance with the laws of mechanics, and an end conceived, in accordance with thermodynamics, as the heat-death of the earth. At the same time, we are aware of ourselves as men, standing inside this process and evolving from it in a way that is certainly unintelligible to present-day science. If we are honest, however, we have to admit that we can never connect up our mental experience with what goes on outside in the material sphere. And at this deepest level of the soul, interwoven with our thinking, feeling and volition, are moral impulses and religious forces. They live within us, in the spiritual element we cannot reconcile with the material.
And so, perhaps, the man of today, with his consciousness, may conclude: natural science leads us only to a material process; this alone makes up exact science; for moral impulses and religious forces, we require concepts of faith!
This view, however, is incompatible with a serious life of the soul. And in their unconscious minds, serious people today feel (though they may not admit) that the earth has evolved from the purely material. From this emerges a kind of bubble. There arise cloud-formations, and indeed shapes thinner even than clouds, mere illusions. In these exist the greatest value we can absorb as men, all our cultural values. We go on living for a while, and one day there supervenes the earth's entry into its heat-death, which can be foretold on external scientific evidence. At this point, it is as if all life on earth is buried in an enormous graveyard. The most valuable things that have arisen from our human life, our finest and noblest ideals, are buried alongside what was the material substance of the earth. You can say that you don't believe it. But anyone who reacts honestly to what is often thought about these things today by people who reject independent spiritual research, could not avoid the inner dissonance and pessimism that arise in face of the question: What is to become of our spiritual activity if we regard the world in a purely material sense, as we are accustomed to do in exact science as it is called? This is the origin of the wide gulf that yawns in our time between religious and moral life and the natural approach to things.
It seems to me that, in these circumstances, a genuine seership, an exact vision is called for, one suited to modern man, to establish a bridge between spiritual and material, by providing a basis of reality for the spiritual and taking from the material its coarseness as I would call it.
That is above all what we bring before us when we look at things as we have done today. We have seen the spiritual in man himself gradually passing over into his heat and air variations. By descending into the coarser material sphere and seeing how the finer element flows into vitalized thinking, we shall we able to think our way into the cosmos and understand correctly something like the heat-death of the earth — because we know how our own human heat in its differentiation is permeated by vitalized thinking. And from the standpoint of the world-memory that appears in ourselves, we can look at what is spiritually active in the material processes of the world. In this way we arrive at a real reconciliation between what presents itself to us spiritually and what presents itself to us materially.
There is, it is true, much in people's hearts today that still militates against such a reconciliation. For in recent centuries we have grown accustomed to count truths as exact only where they rest upon a solid basis of sensory observation, in which we surrender passively to the outside world. What has been observed on this kind of solid basis is then built up into natural laws and natural theories; and theories are accepted as valid only when they rest upon this solid basis of sensory observation.
Those who think like this are people who will only admit ordinary gravity to operate in space, and who say: “The earth has its gravity, and bodies must fall towards the earth and have a support, because they cannot float about freely in space.” This is true, so long as we are standing on the earth and considering the earth's gravity in relation to its immediate surroundings. But if we look out into space, we know that we cannot say: “The heavenly bodies must be supported,” but must say: “They support one another.” We need to attain this attitude, in a form appropriate to the spirit, for our inner universe of knowledge.
We must be capable of developing truths that specifically do not require the support of sensory perception, but support one another as do the heavenly bodies in space. This is, in fact, a precondition for the attainment of a real cosmology, one that is not made up simply of material processes, but in which the material is shot through with soul and spirit. And such a cosmology is needed by modern man. We shall see how he needs it even for his immediate social tasks. But not until we perceive how the really significant truths support one another shall we understand how we can win through to a cosmology of this kind.
Such a cosmology results when we accept as valid the way in which true self-knowledge is attained. We do not attain it anthropomorphically, by going out into the universe with our own experience of self. By entering the outside world, we discover more and more about our ego and so achieve knowledge of self. And when we then go down into it, our inner self becomes world-memory and we learn world-knowledge. Many people already sense the nature of the secret pertaining to knowledge of the world. I should like to express in two sentences what they divine. Self-knowledge and world-knowledge must be truths that mutually support each other. And of this nature, moving to and fro in a pendulum motion, are the truths that are attained by the philosophy of the world and of life I am here describing: as self-knowledge and as world-knowledge. The two sentences in which I should like to sum this up are the following:
If you would know yourself, seek yourself in the universe; if you would know the world, penetrate your own depths. Your own depths will reveal to you, as in a world-memory, the secrets of the cosmos.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Rudolf Steiner, Stockholm, June 8, 1913:
It's not easy to become and be an esotericist, and it wouldn't be possible if it were easy, strange as this may sound. One of the most necessary things for an esoteric is to follow the wise Greek word: Know yourself. It sounds strange but it is nevertheless true that a man basically knows everything else on the physical plane better than he knows himself. The reason self-knowledge is so difficult is that the one who begins to practice it soon makes discoveries that are unpleasant for him; then one would rather leave it alone and doesn't go into it. But one should also practice a self-knowledge of man in general. If one does this one soon makes three discoveries. The first is that a man as he is in his physical incarnation doesn't want to recognize the spirit — he denies it, secondly he wants to run away from the spirit and is really afraid of it, and thirdly he doesn't love the spirit at the bottom of his soul — he really hates it.
Men don't want to recognize the spirit when it comes to meet them in its true form on the physical plane. For instance if someone sees a rose he'll say that he forms an idea of the rose, but he'll think that this idea also comes from the outer world. This is a non-recognition of the spirit, for in reality our ideas, our thoughts don't come from the outer world at all but are given to us directly from the spiritual world. When men hear that they say: No, I don't want the spirit in this form. — But basically they don't want the spirit at all; they would rather run away from it as far as possible.
Let's say that two lectures are announced on a bulletin board — one is about a theosophical theme, so that one knows right away that one will have to think about what is said, will have to work with one's spirit, and the other lecture is with slides. Where do most people go? In the lecture with slides they don't have to be independently attentive, for their attention is forced to stick to the subject. But it's this compulsion that brings it about that it's Ahriman who's thinking, and not oneself. In a theosophical lecture everyone is called upon to be active; in a lecture with slides Ahriman is summoned to think for the people.
Materialists are the greatest conjurers of spirits. Every materialistic gathering is nothing else than a conjuring of Ahriman, because basically people are afraid of the spirit in their soul. Men run away from the spirit because they can't love it. It's a good thing today that there are a few people who feel instinctively that they should get into what theosophy has to give, and who thereby arrive at the spirit. Nobody would arrive at it through their usual inclinations in physical life. Men just don't love the spirit.
How do things really stand with love? When a clairvoyant investigates this he can arrive at bitter experiences, as long as he doesn't look at these experiences in the light of a still greater whole. Suppose that two human beings are born whose karma has it that they are supposed to love each other in this life. Then a clairvoyant can often observe that these people hated each other in the spiritual world before their birth. Or a mother gets a child whom she raises with love in accordance with the wise arrangement of the world order. But before she was born she may have hated the child. Here we come to an area where the wise world direction has proceeded in an especially wise way. For what binds men to each other in love is egoism in by far the most cases. One loves someone because one feels that it's pleasant to be near the person one loves. The good Gods had to use egoism to teach men about love. Without grasping this device of egoism — after the luciferic influence had come — no one could have been induced to work out karmic obligations through loving relationships; a mother wouldn't want to bring the child who's karmically connected with her into the world, and so on.
This is said here to point to the following. Esoteric pupils often come and complain about thoughts that attack them during meditation. It's really a sign of progress that one senses these thoughts; it shows that we don't just have Lucifer and Ahriman in us any more, but that we begin to see them outside us as powers, for thoughts that arise like this are entirely from Lucifer and Ahriman. If everything had remained as originally intended then after the luciferic temptation a man wouldn't have been able to forget his thoughts. He would always have had access to the Akashic records, but it would have been Lucifer and Ahriman who wrote up this chronicle for him. That's why the good Gods had to arrange things so that a man can also forget his thoughts. Everything that sinks into the unconscious like this is dead and Lucifer and Ahriman eat it up. They make it a part of their being and it comes out again in men's meditation as luciferic and ahrimanic things. As soon as someone starts to meditate the hope arises in Lucifer: Maybe I'll be victorious in the world yet. And then he attacks the man with his discarded thoughts. A man really loves to go from one thought to another, and he doesn't love to remain filled with one thought-content in reflection.
Just look at how long a non-esoteric continues to thank the sun for rising, like Essene pupils did, if he decides to do it voluntarily. Few will do it for a week.
A man doesn't really love the spirit at all. He must force himself to keep certain thoughts in his soul for an extended period. A man really loves Lucifer and Ahriman. As a protest against this fact we have our rosicrucian verse:
Ex Deo nascimur
In Christo morimur
Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus
In Christo morimur
Per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus
Related post: http://martyrion.blogspot.com/2018/09/no-admittance.html Source: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19130608e01.html
Rudolf Steiner, Düsseldorf, February 20, 1910:
If a theosophist, withdrawing for a moment from the immediate concerns of daily life, thinks about his tasks and duties in the external world and asks himself: Is there something that has to do with human happiness and human aspirations over and above the daily round of life? — then as a theosophist he will have an ample answer. He knows that he does not study Theosophy merely in order to occupy his mind because daily life leaves his soul dissatisfied. He knows that what he gets from Theosophy in his feelings can become a real force in his soul. For he is able at all times to say to himself: ‘In my inmost being as man I am something different from what I am in the external world. Together with such thoughts we should realise, deep in our inmost being, that as human beings we live all the time within two streams — one of which gives us our place in everyday life, and another which enables the soul to gaze into a world of the future, to assume its rightful place within the whole setting of cosmic life. This idea should never lead us to regard an external occupation as less important for cosmic life as a whole than some different kind of calling. We must realise that from a certain point of view the smallest and the greatest achievement of which we are capable are of equal importance for the whole. Life is a mosaic, composed of tiny pieces of stone. The man who places one little piece into the mosaic is not less important than the man who thought out the plan of the mosaic. As far as the Divine World Order is concerned, the smallest is just as significant as the greatest. Insight into this truth will avert any feelings of dissatisfaction which might otherwise so easily occur in life. This is the only attitude to our tasks in life that can give us a true understanding of the inner work that must be performed within our soul. It is the only true attitude to adopt to spiritual endeavour. Such ideas should never remain mere theory. The theosophist does well to bring home to himself over and over again in inner contemplation how little in keeping it would be with the World Order if some position in life left him unsatisfied. World-evolution could not take its course if we did not carry out in the right way what seem to be most insignificant details in life. This attitude will give us the right feeling for the great revelations of existence and we shall understand the significance of the teaching that each one of us, over and above what we represent in the physical world, should make ourselves as worthy as possible, in line with the wisdom of worlds. We must regard spiritual development in itself as absolutely essential. Many people say: What is the good of spiritual development if it does not make me useful in life? If we learn to recognise the beginnings of karma, our tasks in life will become clear to us. Not only is it our task to do this thing or that; it is our task to make ourselves as worthy, as valuable, as we possibly can. We must master the thought that we have within us countless forces, countless faculties which we dare not let run to seed in our soul. That the divine-spiritual World Order will do with what we have made of our soul must be left to the divine-spiritual World Order. If we work at our soul development and pay heed to the beckoning of karma, we shall realise what our duties are.
We should not theorize. It might be thought that the best kind of theosophist is one who works at his development for a time and then engages in some activity which brings blessing on his fellow-men. But it may be that our position in external life does not enable us to put into application in the world what we elaborate in the soul. There may be no greater fallacy than to imagine that a man can be a good theosophist only if he actually turns to account in the world what he has learnt inwardly. For decades we may not be in a position to put into application any of the impulses that are now within us. Then one day we may happen to be traveling with someone in a railway carriage and are able to say something of significance which otherwise we should have had no opportunity of saying. This single action may be more significant in life than one of much wider scope. We must realise clearly what we are capable of doing and that through the working of karma, the opportunity for turning it to account will be given us at the right moment.
It is often assumed that evolution, wherever it takes place, progresses step by step. But the course taken by life in its totality is not such that we can say: Nature makes no jumps — for in fact nature is continually making jumps. A plant, as it grows, is always making jumps — from the root to the leaf, from the leaf to the calyx, from the calyx to the blossom and from the blossom to the fruit. Sudden transitions occur in the life of every individual and in the life of humanity as a whole. Everywhere we find humanity progressing steadily for a time, developing as the leaves develop on a plant. Then the moment comes when a tremendous step forward is taken, just as happens in the plant from leaf to calyx, from calyx to blossom, from blossom to fruit. In the evolutionary process of humanity such rapid transitions and jumps are constantly occurring. The greatest of all in the history of earth-humanity is the one brought about through the Events in Palestine.
It must be remembered that the human soul has evolved slowly and by degrees. Man's life to-day is such that stimuli come to him from the external world through the senses. Even a person like Helen Keller needed a stimulus from outside before any development was possible. The whole development of the human soul to-day is dependent upon stimuli received through the senses. Man is obliged to depend upon the instrument of his brain for the forming of judgments and ideas. But there was a time when he was not dependent upon these impressions from outside, when he possessed a dim, dreamlike clairvoyance. Clairvoyant pictures welled up from within him, pictures which presented and gave expression to an outer reality but not the same kind of reality as we have around us to-day. Everything around us to-day — plants, animals, air, water, clouds, mountains — none of this was seen with sharp outlines, but as it were through a mist. With his dreamlike consciousness man looked to the realm immediately above him, the realm of the Angeloi. With still higher consciousness he looked up to the realm of the Archangeloi. We to-day look at the mineral kingdom but in those days man looked right up to the realm of the Spirits of Personality (Archai) and from there to the still higher Hierarchies. Just as to-day he knows that he is composed of mineral substances, so, in those olden times, he knew: My soul has come down from the realm of the Spirits of Personality and has been formed out of the substances of the realms of Archangeloi and Angeloi. He looked up to what was above him — and beheld there his spiritual home. From thence he has descended to existence in the physical world and to perception of the physical outer world. First of all he lost his vision of the Archai, and beheld the animal kingdom. Then he lost vision of the Archangeloi and beheld the plant kingdom. Then he lost vision of the Angeloi and beheld the mineral kingdom. But for a long time still, men were able at certain times to look upwards., knowing of the reality of these higher Beings. Only slowly and by degrees did their gaze come to be directed to the purely external world. The door to the spiritual world was closed. But when people who were still able to some extent to see into the spiritual world experienced what is to-day called ‘Illness’, illness and death had for them quite different meanings than they have for us to-day. There were intermediate states of consciousness between waking and sleeping and when some illness befell a man, it was possible for him to evoke a state of consciousness in which he had clairvoyant vision of the spiritual world. In such states he was permeated through and through by the spiritual and this worked as a remedy, as a healing power. To-day, when wan has come down into the physical world, the physical body has become overpoweringly strong and the soul has become weak. Think of soft wax and wax that has hardened. It is difficult to make any impression upon hard wax, whereas soft wax is pliable. In olden times the physical body of man was pliable material which the soul was able to shape and mould. Then the soul connected itself with the Spiritual, it was able to mould the physical. Intense devotion to the Spiritual can help the Spiritual to be a healing force. In olden times, man was able to permeate himself with the Spiritual, not for the purpose of knowledge alone but for the purpose of healing. In those olden times men lived in communion with higher Spiritual Beings. When they had descended to the physical plane but were still in connection with the spiritual worlds, they could not ward off the harmful spiritual Beings. They could be permeated with evil spiritual powers, for example by elementary beings inhabiting the astral plane. A man could lend himself to the good spiritual influences but he was also exposed to evil spiritual beings. To-day he is less subject to these evil demonic beings which in olden times worked with such strength in the more pliable material that men might be possessed by them. The reason for all this was because it was man's destiny to descend to the physical plane and gain self-consciousness. His had long been working from outside upon his human nature. But it was only through the Christ Impulse that man could become fully conscious of the Ego and its purpose. The Christ Impulse was revealed, first of all, in reflection, in the lightning in which Jehovah appeared to Moses, just as the light of the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. Jehovah is in very truth the reflection of Christ. The first revelation of Christ is in reflection. We cannot understand the Gospel of St. John until we realise that the Christ Impulse is the essential, all-important factor in the development of Ego-consciousness.
Man was destined to be drawn away from influences which stream into him without consciousness on his part. This-made it possible for him to unfold Ego-Consciousness and prepare for the re-attainment of clairvoyance. But he must be able to withstand. the influences of demonic beings. The more power there is in his Ego, the better is he able to keep the influences of demons at bay. The healing from demons, from demonic possession, can only be understood in the light of this knowledge. A number of sick people were brought to Christ at the time of the day when Christ could work most strongly as a spiritual power. It was thespiritual light which was to work — not the physical sunlight (which is only the garment of the spiritual light). It was when the sun had set that the sick were brought to Christ. We must picture to ourselves how the healing actually took place. The people who came to Christ had the firm faith and conviction that the impulse which can drive away the demons was working through Him. If the expulsion of the demons had been achieved through some external means, the Christ would not have been working through the Ego. A man can only know Christ by developing inner strength. And Christ can work only when this strength comes to expression in the Ego of man.
All this shows us that in that significant moment of time, mankind was standing at a great turning-point. It was the last echoing of an ancient epoch and also the moment of the coming of a mighty impulse whereby men were led into a new age. In earlier times man had been in much closer connection with the spiritual world. In states of ecstasy he could find the way to the spiritual world. But entry into the spiritual world now was to be through the Ego. This impulse was given in the call of John the Baptist and through Christ Himself: ‘Change the disposition of your souls, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The link that connected you with the kingdom of Heaven must now be sought and found within you!’
To those who understood, it could be said: There was once a time when human souls, rising above the Ego, came into a world of spirit and the spiritual was bestowed upon them for their healing. They became ‘rich in spirit’, possessors of the spirit. Then came a turning-point. Those who are beggars for the spirit are now summoned to enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who are beggars in the spirit can now become ‘blessed’ — God-filled in their inmost being. ( ‘Selig (blessed) means ‘verseligt werden’: ascent from the body into the soul). Beggars for the spirit, those who yearn and long for the spirit — they will receive into themselves the kingdom of heaven.
Those who suffer, who mourn, they too will be ‘blessed’ when They receive the Christ Impulse. Through seeing in their own Ego for the link with the spiritual world, they will be healed.
Those whose passions made then violent, could in earlier times be calmed when in states of ecstasy, they were permeated by the Spiritual. The mission of the earth is to be fulfilled by those who quell their passions through the power of the Ego.
Those who suffer will cease to suffer if, in the Ego, they receive Christ. Those who receive Christ in the Ego, can be calmed, can be meek; and they will rule over the earth.
The first verse of the Sermon on the Mount has to do with the physical body. (Blessed are the poor in spirit ...)
The second verse has to do with the etheric body (Blessed are they that mourn ...)
The third verse has to do with the astral body (Blessed are the meek ...)
The fourth verse has to do with the Sentient Soul (Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness ...) Man's conscience should not apply only to the physical realm. Those who in the Sentient Soul hunger and thirst after righteousness can be blessed.
That a man can become in the Intellectual or Mind Soul is expressed in the verse: Blessed are the merciful. The Ego, the ‘I’ flashes up when we have passed from the Sentient Soul to the Mind Soul. Man must feel himself as an Ego and every other human being as well. What lives in the soul passes from Ego to Ego; subject and predicate are equal: ‘Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy — or love.’
The Sermon on the Mount is a record unequalled in statement concerning the mighty transition inaugurated by Christ.
(The following notes are from a lecture given on a different date, and much earlier, namely, Berlin, 20th Aug, 1904.)
There are certain expressions which since very ancient times were used in all secret schools in order to conceal certain facts from the uninitiated — for example, the expression “on the mount”. This means the innermost of the temple where the pupils were initiated into certain secrets. When it is said “Jesus went up into the mount”, this means that he led His disciples into the innermost sanctuary of his Mystery School and spoke to the multitude only in images. The Sermon on the Mount, in its mighty significance, could only be given to the disciples, not the people.
There are Nine Beatitudes ... 3x3.
Three virtues which correspond to the lower nature of man are: Longing (Blessed are the poor in Spirit), Suffering (Blessed are they that mourn) and Peace (Blessed are the meek).
To be drawn upwards through Longing, to overcome through Suffering, to come to Peace.
The second group of three virtues stand higher: Righteousness, Mercy, Good-Will in the Heart. If we compare this second stage with the first, we find that the first three virtues refer to the individual, the second group of three to his fellow-men.
Thirdly, there are the virtues which lead up to the higher Beings. (Blessed are the peacemakers ...) whoever speaks to injure another, to say what makes him uncomfortable, cannot find the way to higher Beings.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake ... willingness to endure persecution for the sake of righteousness.
Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you, for my sake ... this means to declare oneself as belonging to the Master.
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Kali Yuga, the Dark Age, had already lasted for 3,000 years. It began in the year 3,101 B.C.. That is the year when the spiritual world began to darken, to be shut off from men. Before that time, men had direct consciousness of the spiritual worlds. After Kali Yuga had lasted for 3,101 years there came the impulse whereby man is led once again into the spiritual world. But this impulse was possible only because a God descended into the physical world. This was the initial impulse for the return to the Spiritual world. The evolution of humanity took a great forward jump because men were able henceforth, out of the Ego itself, to ascend again into the spiritual world. The Descent of Christ was necessary in order that the human Ego should not waste away through inertia and fall out of the onward stream of evolution. For a very considerable time there were only a few men who knew that Christ had lived in Palestine. Tacitus, for example, knew very little of it. About 100 years later, people spoke of a sect living in a poor quarter of Rome and teaching of Jesus. This, the mightiest of all impulses, the Christ Impulse, was practically unknown. It might have remained unknown altogether but in fact it did not. The Christ Impulse was received into humanity. And when a similar impulse is given mankind must be in a position not to let such a jump happen in evolution without noticing it.
In 1899 the Dark Age, Kali Yuga, came to an end, having lasted for 5,000 years. We are living to-day at the beginning of an epoch when quite new forces and faculties will develop. Before the first half of the century has run its course, a number of people, simply through natural development, will possess unusual faculties. From the end of Kali Yuga, from the year 1899 onwards, a certain faculty of etheric sight unfolds in mankind, and this will have developed in a number of people between 1930 and 1940. There will then be two possibilities. Mankind may sink more deeply still into the morass of materialism; everything may be flooded by materialism. This awakening of etheric sight may be ignored, just as the Christ Event was ignored. But if men do not experience this awakening, they will be submerged in materialism.
In the course of 2,500 years a sufficiently large number of human beings will develop etheric sight. This is the beginning of the clairvoyance that will be an added faculty of the Ego. Those who understand it will be able to convince themselves of the truth of the Christ Event exactly as Paul became convinced of it at Damascus. When men have developed etheric sight they will be able to behold Christ in an etheric body. This is Christ's new descent to the men of Earth. In reality, however, it is an ascent, for Christ will never again incarnate in the flesh. Those men who have developed etheric sight will be able to behold the Christ in the etheric body and will know from direct experience that the Christ lives.
Through soul-development we shall begin to understand this most important Event. If Theosophy did not develop understanding in men, this Event might pass by unheeded. Theosophy should prepare us in such a way that we can make this greatest Event since the close of Kali Yuga bear fruit in mankind. No matter what their activities may be, those men will be of importance who have prepared themselves to see this etheric happening. But this happening will also be of importance to those who are living between death and rebirth. It has its effects in the spiritual worlds too but the organ for perceiving it must be developed here, on the Earth.
We ourselves now proclaim the new Christ Event of the 20th century. Later on it will be proclaimed as an Event whose effects work on for the whole of humanity. But it may be that materialism will be introduced even into the theosophical conception of the new Christ Event. Materialistic consciousness may imagine that Christ could come again in the flesh. When the Event takes place it will be obvious whether or not theosophy has understood it. In the first half of the 20th century, false Messiahs will arise.
Mankind develops in order to be able to recognise the Messiah with higher faculties. The test will be whether Theosophy has enabled men to understand this Event aright, has led them to the Spiritual in such a way that they can understand the Return of Christ in its true form. Christ will come again for a number of men — who will be forerunners — just as he once came to Paul at Damascus.
Unbelief becomes more and more widespread as the result of literary criticism of the original records. The more the historical evidences lose importance for men, the more will the faculty ripen through which the Christ can be seen. The real Christ will be revealed to those men who through Spiritual Science can unfold the understanding, the vision of the true Return of Christ.