"Spirit Triumphant! Flame through the impotence of faltering, fainthearted souls! Burn up selfishness, kindle compassion, so that selflessness, the lifestream of humanity, may flow as the wellspring of spiritual rebirth!" — Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner, January 5, 1911:
We must especially beware of attending too much in any era to what emerges as authority. As long as we lack spiritual insight, this can seriously mislead us. This is particularly true in one area of human culture: the field of materialistic medicine. Here we can discern the decisive influence of authority, and the ever increasing claim to authority, which is in fact far, far more dreadful than any kind of medieval tyranny. We find ourselves in the very midst of this tendency, which will keep increasing. People may mock the ghosts of medieval superstition, but we can ask if anything much has changed. Has this fear of ghosts faded? Aren't people actually far more afraid of ghosts than they were back then? What happens in the human soul when people are told they carry 60,000 bacilli on their hands is far more terrible than generally acknowledged. In America statistics have been calculated about how many such bacilli can be found on a man's moustache. At least the ghosts of medieval times were, one might say, decent ghosts; but modern bacilli-ghosts are too minuscule to grapple with. The fear invoked by them is only just beginning, and leads, in health matters, to people succumbing to a really terrible belief in authority.
Source: The Mission of the New Spirit Revelation, p. 9
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Lecture 3 of 4
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, February 5, 1913:
When aman of our time goes through an occult training which leads him to such experiences as were described in the last two lectures, he enters by means of this training into the spiritual worlds; and there he experiences certain facts and meets with certain beings. The phrase, “To see the Sun at Midnight”, is fundamentally only an expression for spiritual facts and for the meeting with spiritual beings who are connected with the Sun-existence. But when this man of our time ascends into the higher worlds, he goes through certain experiences which one cannot describe otherwise than by saying: A man experiences much that is significant in the higher worlds through such an ascent, but he also feels himself forsaken and alone. He feels that he can gather up his experience in some such words as these: “Much, very much, you are seeing here, but the very thing you must long for above all else, after all you have gone through — that you are not able to experience.” And he would like to question all the beings whom he meets after such an ascent concerning certain secrets he longs to understand. That is the feeling he has. But all these beings, who unveil much that is immense and powerful, remain silent when he wants to learn from them about those mysteries which he must now regard as the most important of all. Hence the man of our time, when he has thus mounted to the higher worlds, feels it to be above all painful that in spite of all the splendour, in spite of his meeting with those glorious beings, he has an immense emptiness in his inner life. And if nothing else were to happen, a protracted experience of this loneliness, this forlorn condition in the higher worlds, would finally bring about something like despair in his soul.
Now at this point something can happen — and usually does happen if the ascent has been undertaken according to the true rules of Initiation — which may be a protection from this despair, at first, though not permanently. Something like a remembrance may arise in the soul, or one might say a retrospect into far-off times of the past, a kind of reading in the Akashic Record about long-past happenings. And what is then experienced (one cannot characterise these things except by trying to clothe them in approximate words) might be put in the following way: “When as a modern man you ascend into these higher worlds, you are met by forlorn-ness, despair. But pictures call up for you long-past happenings, showing you that in distant times men ascended into the worlds into which you now wish to rise. Yes, from these memory pictures you may well come to recognise that in earlier incarnations your own soul took part in what these men experienced when formerly they rose into the higher worlds. It might even appear that the soul of a present-day man, in contemplating these pictures, looks at experiences of his own, gone through in times long since past. Then in those remote ages this soul would have been an Initiate. In other cases, the man would know only that his soul had been connected with those who as Initiates had then risen into the higher worlds; but his soul now feels lonely and forsaken, whereas those once initiated souls did not feel lonely and forsaken in the same worlds, but experienced innermost bliss. He will recognise further that this was so because in those ancient times souls were differently constituted, and for this reason they experienced differently what they beheld in the higher worlds. What is it, then, that is really experienced?
The experience now in question is such that it brings before the soul beings of higher worlds who are working upon the sense-world from the super-sensible worlds; beings are perceived who stand behind our sense-world; conditions are seen such as were described yesterday. But if one tries to summarise all one sees, it can be characterised in some such way as the following: The seer feels himself to be in the higher worlds, and gazing down, as it were, into the sense-world; he feels himself united in some way with spirits who have passed through the Gate of Death, and, with them, too, he gazes downward, and sees how they will again employ their forces in order to enter physical existence. He looks down and sees how forces are sent out of the super-sensible worlds in order to bring about the processes of the different kingdoms of nature in the sense-world. He sees the whole current of events which are prepared for our world out of the higher worlds. Because in the course of a sojourn of this kind in the higher worlds he is outside his physical and etheric bodies, he looks down upon them and sees also those forces in the Cosmos, in the whole spiritual universe, which are working on the physical and etheric bodies of man. And through the activity of the beings into whose company he has entered, he learns to understand how physical and etheric bodies come into existence within the physical world. He learns to understand this thoroughly. He comes to understand how certain beings who are associated with the Sun send their activity into the Earth and work on engendering the physical and etheric bodies of man. He learns also to know certain beings associated with the Moon-existence, who work down out of the Cosmos in order likewise to co-operate in bringing about the physical and etheric bodies of human beings.
Then, however, arises a great longing, a longing that becomes terrible for a man of the present time. It is the longing to know something of how the astral body and the ego are born out of the Cosmos, how they come into existence. Whereas the seer can discern exactly how the physical body and the etheric body arise out of the forces of the Cosmos, completely hidden from him is everything that could point to how the astral body and the ego of man are brought into being. In deepest darkness and secrecy is veiled everything that has to do with the astral body and ego. Thus the feeling grows: What you are in your innermost nature, what you yourself really are, is veiled from your spiritual sight; and that in which you sheathe yourself when you are living in the physical world is disclosed to you precisely enough!
All this is experienced by a man of the present time when he rises to higher worlds in the manner described. It was experienced. also by those who in ancient times undertook the ascent. But they did not feel the great longing we have spoken of: they had no need to behold their innermost being, for they were so constituted that they felt a deep inward satisfaction in perceiving how the spiritual beings whose company they had reached were at work in building physical and etheric bodies on the Earth. In contemplating how these beings worked down from the Sun to accomplish this task, the souls who were initiated in past times found their highest satisfaction. It must be added that the work performed by these beings presented itself under a different aspect in those times; hence the satisfaction it could afford. In our time the work appears in such a light that one asks: Wherefore all this preparation of the physical and etheric bodies, if one cannot understand what these sheaths conceal? That is the difference between a person of the present time and a man of old. And the period in the past which was connected particularly with these experiences is that in which Zarathustra initiated his pupils and guided them up into the higher worlds. If aspirants were to be led up into the higher worlds in the same way to-day as they were by Zarathustra, they would feel that emptiness and loneliness to which reference has been made. In the time of Zarathustra those who were to be initiated experienced the working of Ahura Mazdao on the physical body and the etheric body, and in the unveiling of this wonderful mystery they felt bliss and satisfaction, for they were so disposed that they felt inwardly stirred when they saw how the sheaths which man needs if he is to accomplish his Earth-mission are brought into existence. In this they found satisfaction.
Thus it was with the Zarathustrian Initiation. For the initiates could “See the Sun at Midnight”; that is, they were not looking upon the physical form of the Sun but upon the spiritual beings who are linked with the Sun. They saw emanating from the Sun the forces which play into the physical body; saw how the forces which the Sun is able to send forth mould the human head and form the different parts of the human brain. For it would be folly for anyone to think that a marvellous construction such as the human brain could come into existence merely through terrestrial forces; solar forces must work into it. These forces bring together the complex lobular formations of the human brain, poised above the human face. Engaged in this task are quite numerous beings; Zarathustra gave them the name of “Amshaspands”. They furnish the stimulus for the forces of the Cosmos which make possible the building of the human brain and the upper nerves of the spinal cord, with the exception of the lower twenty-eight pairs of nerves. Then Zarathustra also pointed out how other currents flow from beings who are linked with the life of the Moon; he showed how wonderfully the structure of the Cosmos is adapted so that from twenty-eight groups of entities — “Izeds” as they are called — currents proceed which build up the spinal cord with its twenty-eight lower pairs of nerve fibres. Thus are physical and etheric bodies formed out of currents which stream forth from cosmic beings.
They were powerful impressions that the initiates of Zarathustra received in this way. And in receiving them as an expression of the work of Ahura Mazdao, they felt an inner bliss concerning all that is thus accomplished. in the world. If a modern man were to raise himself in the same way into the higher worlds, he would of course also be capable of wonderment; he, too, would be able to begin to experience the same bliss. But gradually he would pass on to the feeling which one cannot clothe in words other than these: “What is the purpose of it all? I know nothing about that being who passes from incarnation to incarnation! I know solely about those beings who in each new incarnation build up sheaths out of the Cosmos, but they build only sheaths.” That was precisely the essence of the Zarathustra Initiation: its revelation of the connection between the earthly part of man and the life of the Sun. It was characteristic of the time of Zarathustra that men were able to absorb into their occult knowledge those mysteries we have now described.
Again, it was in a different way that souls in ancient Egypt entered the higher worlds at Initiation — souls, for example, who went through the Hermes Initiation. We have already spoken about all these things; but in these lectures they will be presented in rather more detail than was possible previously. When in ancient Egyptian times souls were raised into the higher worlds through the Hermes Initiation, then — as it must always be after Initiation — they felt themselves to be outside their physical and etheric bodies and knew that they were now within a world of spiritual facts and spiritual beings. Wide was the circuit of vision through which these souls were then led. They were shown the individual beings and facts, as can happen also with the soul of to-day. But one must not think of it as though they went about on physical feet; it was their vision that was guided, as if a person's sight were to be led all round a region as wide as the universe. Thus it was in this Initiation.
Then came a moment of experience wherein the initiates felt as though a traveler in a country encircled by the sea had reached the shore. They knew they had come to the farthest point attainable. In the Egyptian Initiation they experienced what one cannot clothe in other words than these: “In your vision you have been led far and wide through cosmic realms and have come to know the beings and forces that work on your physical body and your etheric body. But now you are entering the most holy place. You are entering a region where you can feel yourself united with the Being who works with others on the part of you that goes from one incarnation to another, and on your astral body.” It is a significant experience that occurs at this point, for after it all things become in some sense different.
For the initiate, after that, one possibility is closed. In the world he has now entered, on the shores of cosmic existence, he is no longer able to make use of his former ways of thinking and judging. If he cannot cast off all this earthly, physical power of judgment; if he cannot disregard what has guided him so far, then he cannot have this experience on the borders of existence; he cannot feel himself united with that Being who is active when the human being as spirit and soul approaches his birth into a new incarnation, and seeks nation, family and parents in order to clothe himself with new sheaths. All the beings whom he has already come to know, and who make it clear to him how the etheric and physical sheaths arise and are formed out of the Cosmos, are unable to explain what kind of forces are working in that Being with whom he now feels himself united, and who is building and weaving in the innermost astral being of the man himself. It becomes quite apparent to the seer, as it was to the Egyptian soul who was going through the Hermes Initiation, that now, after the soul is outside its sheaths and has passed through the “cosmic existence” already alluded to, it feels itself united with a Being. The soul can feel the qualities of this Being, only it feels itself as if it were within these qualities and not outside this Being, and it can know that this Being is really there, but that it is at the same time within this Being. And the first impression that the aspirant receives of this Being is such that one says to oneself: In this Being lie the forces which bring the soul from one incarnation to another, and also the forces which illuminate the soul between death and a new birth. All that is there within. But when there surges towards you a force like unto spiritual cosmic Warmth, one that conveys the soul from death to a new birth; and when there presses towards you the spiritual Light that illumines souls between death and a new birth, and when you feel how this Warmth and this Light stream out from the Being with whom you are united, you are now in a quite peculiar situation. You have had to drink the waters of Lethe, to forget the art of understanding which formerly guided you through the physical world, to lay aside your former power of judgment, your intellectuality, for here these would only lead you astray; and as yet you have gained nothing of a new kind. In your experience of the cosmic Warmth which brings the soul to a new birth, you are within the ocean of forces which illuminate the soul between death and a new birth. You experience the force and the light which issue from this Being. You behold this Being in such manner that you can do no other than ask of it: “Who art Thou? For Thou alone canst tell me who Thou art, and only then can I know that which takes the essential inward part of me as a human being from death to a new birth. Only when Thou tellest me this can I know what my innermost nature is as man!” And mute remains the Being with whom the aspirant knows himself to be united. He feels with the deepest part of himself that he is united with the deepest part of the Being. The urge towards self-knowledge arises, to know what a man is — and yet the Being remains silent. The aspirant must first have stood for a while before this silent Being, and have felt deeply the longing to have the riddle of the universe solved after a new manner, as it never can be on the physical Earth; he must have brought into this world, to this Being, as a force out of himself, the deep longing to have the riddle of the universe solved in a way foreign to physical existence, and the soul must entirely live in the longing to have the cosmic enigma solved in this manner. Then, when he has felt himself united with the mute spiritual Being, and has lived in him with longing for the solution that we have indicated, then he feels that there streams forth into this spiritual Being with whom he is united, the force of his own longing. And because this force of the aspirant's own longing for the solution of the riddle streams out into the spiritual Being, after a time it gives birth to something like another being projected from it. But what is born is not after the manner of an earthly birth, as the aspirant knows at once through his own vision. An earthly birth arises “in time”; it enters into the stream of time. But concerning the birth from this Being, the aspirant knows: It is born from Him, it has been born from Him since primordial times — always, and this birth continues from primordial ages up to the present. Only this birth-process of one being from another has hitherto not been visible to man; until now it has been withheld from his sight. This birth-process consists in his: it is really continuous, but man, owing to his having prepared himself by means of his yearning for the solving of the riddle, now sees it — it is now perceived in the spiritual world. The aspirant knows this. Thus he does not say: Now a being is born, but: From the Being with whom you have united yourself, ever since primordial times, a being has always been born; but now the process of the being's birth, and the being itself who is born, are perceptible to you.
What I have now pictured to you, as far as it can be done in the words of our language, is that to which the Hermes Initiator led. his pupils. And the feelings that I have just described (I might say with stammering words, for the things contain so much that the words of our tongue can express them only in a stammering way) — these feelings were the experiences of the so-called Egyptian Isis Initiation.
When the aspirant who was going through the Isis Initiation had reached the furthest shore of existence and had gazed upon the beings who build up the physical body and the etheric body, when he had stood before the silent Goddess from whom Warmth and Light come forth for the innermost of the human soul, he said to himself: “That is Isis. That is the mute and silent Goddess whose countenance can be unveiled to no-one who sees only with mortal eyes, but only to those who have worked themselves through to the shores which have been described, so that they can see with those eyes which go from incarnation to incarnation and are no longer mortal. For an impenetrable veil hides the form of Isis from mortal eyes.”
When the aspirant had thus gazed upon Isis and had experienced in his soul the feeling described, he understood what has been described. as the birth. What was this “birth?” He understood that it can be designated as “The resounding through all space of the Music of the Spheres,” and as the merging of the tones of this Sphere-music with the creative cosmic Word — the Word which permeates space and pours into the beings everything that has to be so poured into them, as the soul has to be poured into the physical and etheric body after passing through the life between death and a new birth. Everything that has to be thus poured out from the spiritual world into the physical world, so that what is poured out acquires the inward character of soul, is poured in from the Harmony of the Spheres resounding through space. The Harmony of the Spheres gradually assumes such a form that through the inner significance it expresses it can be understood as the Cosmic Word — the Word which ensouls the beings that are vitalised by the forces of Warmth and Light which pour into those bodies that arise from the divine forces and beings perceived with the vision already attained.
Thus did the aspirant look into the world of the Harmony of the Spheres, the world of the Cosmic Word; thus did he look into the world which is the veritable home of the human soul during the time between death and a new birth. That which is hidden deep in the physical earthly existence of man, but lives between death and a new birth in the splendour of the Light and Warmth; that which deeply veils itself in the physical world as the world of the Harmony of the Spheres and the Cosmic Word, was experienced in the Hermes-Initiation as coming to birth from Isis. There Isis stands before the aspirant, Isis herself on the one side, and on the other side the being she has borne, whom one must speak of as Cosmic Tones and the Cosmic Word. The aspirant feels himself in the company of Isis and of the Cosmic Word born of her. And this “Cosmic Word” is in the first place the appearing of Osiris. “Isis in association with Osiris”: thus do they appear before direct vision; for in the very oldest Egyptian Initiation it was said that Osiris was at the same time spouse and son of Isis. And in the older Egyptian Initiation the essential thing was that the aspirant, through this Initiation, experienced the mysteries of soul-life, which remains united with man during the period between death and a new birth. Through the union with Osiris it was possible to recognise oneself in one's deeper significance as man.
So it was brought to pass that the Egyptian Initiate met the Cosmic Word and the Cosmic Tones as the elucidators of his own being in the spiritual world. But that was up to a certain point of time only in the old Egyptian period. After that it ceased. There was a great difference — this is shown also by the Akashic Records when one looks back into ancient times — between the experiences of the Egyptian Initiate in the ancient Egyptian temples and what he experienced later on.
Let us bring before our souls what the Initiate experienced in these later times. He could still be led through the vast spaces of the universe to the confines of existence; there he could meet with all the beings who build up the physical and etheric bodies of man; there he could approach the shores of being and could have the vision of the mute, silent Isis, and could apprehend in her the Cosmic Warmth which contains for man the forces that lead from death to a new birth. There he could also become acquainted with the Light which illumines the soul between death and a new birth; and the longing arose to hear the Cosmic Word and the Cosmic Harmony; longing lived in the soul when it united itself with the silent Isis. But the Goddess remained dumb! In that later age no Osiris could be born, no Cosmic Harmony resounded, no Cosmic Word expounded that which now showed itself only as Cosmic Warmth and Cosmic Light. And the soul of the aspirant could not have expressed. these experiences otherwise than by saying something like the following; “Thus, 0 Goddess, do I look up in grief to thee, tormented by the thirst for knowledge, the yearning for knowledge, and thou, thou remainest silent and speechless towards the tormented and sorrow-laden soul. And this soul, because it cannot understand itself, seems to itself as though extinguished, as if it must lose its very existence.” And through her mourning countenance the Goddess expressed her powerlessness to bring forth the Cosmic Word and the Cosmic Harmony. The aspirant saw in her that she had been deprived of the power to bring forth Osiris and to have him at her side, Osiris as Son and Spouse. He felt that Osiris had been torn from Isis.
Those who went through this Initiation and came back into the physical world had a serious but resigned world-outlook. They knew her, the Holy Isis, but they felt themselves as “Sons of the Widow”. And the point of time between the old Initiation, wherein one was able to experience the birth of Osiris in those ancient Egyptian Mysteries, and that wherein one met only the mute, mourning Isis and could become a Son of the Widow in the Egyptian Mysteries; the point of time which separates these two phases of the Egyptian Initiation — when was it? It was the time in which Moses lived. For the karma of Egypt was fulfilled in such a way that not only was Moses initiated into the Mysteries of Egypt, but he took them with him. When he led his people out of Egypt he took with him the part of the Egyptian Initiation which added the Osiris-Initiation to the mourning Isis, as she later became. Such was the transition from the Egyptian civilisation to that of the Old Testament. Truly, Moses had carried away the secret of Osiris, the secret of the Cosmic Word! And if he had not left behind the powerless Isis there could not have resounded for him, in the way that he had to understand it for the sake of his people, that great, significant Word, “I AM THE I AM”, (“Ejeh asher Ejeh”). So was the Egyptian Mystery carried over to the ancient Hebrew Mystery.
We have tried now to show, using such words as are available for these matters, what the experiences were like in the Mysteries of Zarathustra and of Egypt. These things do not lend themselves to intellectual presentation. The essential point is that the soul goes through experiences corresponding to what I have endeavoured to describe. And it is important to enter into what took place in the soul of the aspirant in the later Egyptian Initiation: to feel how he raised his soul into the higher worlds and met Isis with the mourning look and sorrow-stricken countenance, the result of her having to look on the human soul which was well able to yearn and thirst for knowledge of the spiritual worlds, but could not be satisfied.
Thus also certain Greek Initiates experienced the same Being of whom the Egyptians spoke as the later Isis. Hence the seriousness of the Greek Initiation, where it appears in its solemnity. What had been experienced in earlier times in the super-sensible worlds — that which gave significance to those super-sensible worlds in that they resounded to the Cosmic Word and Cosmic Tone — was no longer there. It was there no more ... The super-sensible worlds were as though desolate and forsaken by the Cosmic Word, those worlds into which in earlier Initiations man had been able to enter. The Zarathustrian Initiate could still feel satisfied when in these worlds he encountered the Beings already described, for he felt himself fulfilled by the Cosmic Light, which he perceived as Ahura Mazdao. He perceived it as masculine, of solar nature; the Egyptian perceived it as feminine, lunar. And at a higher stage in the Zarathustrian Initiation he perceived also the Cosmic Word, not so concretely as if born from such a Being as Isis; but he experienced it and he knew the Harmony of the Spheres and the Cosmic Word.
In the later Egyptian time — and also in other lands during this late Egyptian time — when a man raised himself into the higher worlds, his feelings were quite similar to those of a present-day man, as described at the beginning of the present lecture. He rises up into the higher worlds, becomes acquainted with all the Beings who co-operate in building up the physical and etheric bodies, but he feels himself forsaken and alone if nothing else appears, because he has something in himself that longs for the Cosmic Word and the Cosmic Harmony, and the Cosmic Word and the Cosmic Harmony cannot resound for him. To-day such a man feels lonely and forsaken; in the later Egyptian Age he did not only feel forsaken and desolate, but, if he was a true “Son of the Widow” and was out of the physical and etheric bodies and in the spiritual worlds, he felt himself as a human soul in such a way that be was constrained to clothe his feeling in the words: The God is preparing to leave the worlds which you have always trodden when you felt the Cosmic Word; the God has ceased to be active there. And ever more and more did this feeling condense itself into what one may call the super-sensible equivalent of that which one encounters in the sense-world as the death of man — when one sees a person die, when one knows that he is passing out of the physical world. And now, when the Initiate of the later Egyptian Age rose up into the higher worlds, he was a partaker in the gradual dying of the God. As one feels with a person when he is passing into the spiritual world, so did the Initiate of the later Egyptian period feel how the God took leave of the spiritual world in order to pass over into another world. This was the significant and remarkable part of the later Egyptian Initiation — that when the aspirant raised his life into the spiritual worlds, it was not into rapture and bliss, but in order to partake in the gradual passing away of a God who was present in these higher worlds as Cosmic Word and Cosmic Harmony. Out of this frame of mind there gradually condensed the myth of Osiris, who was torn away from Isis and conveyed to Asia, and for whom Isis mourned.
With this lecture we have placed ourselves on one bank of the stream which separates the evolution of humanity into two parts. We have come from the direction of this evolution as far as the bank; we stand upon it, and what this standing there signifies has been brought home to us through the frame of mind, of the later Egyptian Initiate, the “Son of the Widow”, who was initiated in order to experience mourning and resignation. It will now be our task, in the boat of Spiritual Science, to cross the stream which separates the two shores of human evolution.
In the last lecture we shall see what is on the other shore — when we push off our boat from the place where we have experienced the mourning for the God who is dying in the Heavens, when we leave that place in order to traverse the stream and arrive at the other bank. When the boat of spiritual science has carried us across, with the remembrance that we have previously experienced the dying of a God in the Heavens, we shall see what is offered to our view on the other side.
Lecture 2 of 4
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, February 4, 1913:
From what has been said we can well see that the ascent into the spiritual worlds depends upon the strengthening of the inner forces of the soul-life, so that through the exercises which a person undertakes for the purpose of penetrating into the higher worlds, he develops forces in his soul which far surpass those needed in ordinary life. This requirement is shown by the fact that when the soul becomes independent of the physical body in ordinary life, i.e. in sleep, it falls at once into unconsciousness. This means that in normal life the individual lacks sufficient force to unfold inner activity and maintain consciousness when, as in sleep, the physical and etheric bodies are not helping him to do so. The other members of the human organism, the ego and the astral body, must be worked upon and illuminated through the exercises of meditation, concentration and contemplation, so that they become capable of conscious experience when they are separated from the physical and etheric bodies, as in ordinary sleep. The stronger-than-ordinary soul-forces that a man develops are what enable him to reach the stage we spoke of yesterday. They give him the power, after he has confronted the Void, to enter a new world which he can experience through the fact that — as the spider spins its web out of itself — he pours out into space the spiritually substantial content of his soul, and receives into it the spiritual worlds which then present themselves to him.
So now, after having left behind him the physical sense-world in this way, and gone through the stage of having stood over the abyss — for that is how it feels when one confronts the Void — the aspirant is in a new world. And in this new world he not only experiences something different, but he experiences it in a quite new way. We can begin from an ordinary experience on the physical plane. There, events occur in two apparently quite separate domains. In one domain the events are subject to the laws of nature; in the other they are subject to moral laws. When in ordinary physical life we observe the events of nature, even when we ascend to the animal kingdom, we know that we are looking only for natural laws and that moral standards are inapplicable there. We do not enquire, for example, why a rock crystal has the form of a six-sided column ending in two six-sided pyramids; we do not ask why this mineral substance aggregates itself in such a way that this crystal form appears. We expect no answer except that it obeys a natural law. We do not ask what good thing the rock crystal has done that it should have become a rock crystal. We do not ask what its intentions are, We do not apply moral standards to the mineral world. Neither do we apply them to the plant world. And only in a somewhat indirect sense — and, one might say, according to the sympathies of Darwinistically-inclined persons — do we apply moral concepts to the animal kingdom. What interests us in the animal kingdom, first of all, is its conformity to natural law. When we rise to the human kingdom, we feel obliged to judge men according to the standards of goodwill, love, and so forth. As already said, we regard the facts of the physical world as enmeshed in the web of natural laws, while we judge human actions and soul dispositions by the standard of moral laws; and we are indeed not doing well in our estimate of the physical plane if we mix up these two sets of facts. We are accustomed on the physical plane to judge the world in this twofold way. Hence it is not very easy, after one has sprung, as it were, over the abyss of the Void, to pass into the spiritual world where a different kind of judgment is necessary; where, in fact, there is no separation between something that could be ascribed to natural laws, as with natural events on the physical plane, and a purely moral happening, which likewise exists on the physical plane. When, therefore, the point is reached of which we spoke yesterday, one must accustom oneself to judge events in like manner as we judge natural facts, but also as we judge moral facts in the physical world. The world of natural law and the world of moral law intermingle when one enters the spiritual world.
That shows itself at once, for example, when a man is confronted with the realm that he inhabits between death and a new birth. When the seer has in all earnestness come as far as we have already indicated, he can and will meet those souls who, having passed through the Gate of Death, are going through their development between death and a new birth. He then learns to know the kind of experience these souls are encountering, and if he is to form any judgment of what their experience is, he must adopt quite different habits of thought. A few examples will explain this.
In that realm we find souls which for a certain period between death and a new birth have to undergo very hard conditions. The seer has at first the impression that in the spiritual world these souls — of a certain category — have become the servants of very terrible beings, and that it was through their own lives before death that they condemned themselves to this labour for the terrible spirits. As seer he gradually learns to understand their hard fate, and he does so in the following manner. He cultivates the thought of how a man lives in his physical body from birth to death and how — as has often been described in the course of our lectures on spiritual science — so-called natural death is brought about through an inner conformity to law, when a man has in old age expended his life-forces. We will not speak of this death at present. But there are other deaths. There are those deaths by which a man is snatched away, through accident or illness, in the very flower of his life. We do not all die after having fulfilled our measure of life. Men die at all ages, and we must ask ourselves: Whence come the forces which are responsible for these deaths at different ages? We understand that a man must die when his measure of life is fulfilled. We have often seen how that is brought about by the spiritual worlds. But everything that happens in the physical world comes about through influences from the spiritual worlds. Those deaths which are to a certain extent untimely also happen through influences from the spiritual worlds; that is, they are caused by forces and beings of the spiritual world.
There is something else in the physical world to which we must pay attention if we want to understand the life between death and the next birth. We see the physical world permeated by illnesses and diseases, and in earlier times afflicted by well-known pestilences. One need but recall those devastating visitations among earlier European peoples when the plague, cholera, etc., swept through the land. In this present age we are comparatively fortunate in regard to such things. But already — as indicated in the course of our lectures — certain epidemics are preparing. So we see what appears to be untimely death pass over the Earth; we see disease and pestilence. And. the seer sees souls living between death and a new birth who are helping those spirits who bear from the super-sensible worlds into the sense-world the forces which bring epidemics and illnesses, and so-called untimely death.
It makes a terrifying impression to perceive how during certain periods of their lives between death and a new birth human souls have become servants of the evil spirits of illness and death, and have condemned themselves to this servitude. If one tries to trace back the lives of such persons to the time before they went through the Gate of Death, one always finds that during their life on the physical plane they were lacking in conscience, lacking in feelings of responsibility. A fixed law is evident here. The seer perceives how souls who were morally irresponsible in their dispositions in their lives on Earth have to co-operate, for a period after death, in bringing epidemics, illnesses and untimely deaths into the physical sense-world. Here we see a natural ordinance to which these souls are subject, but we cannot say of it that, like a crystallisation, or like the concussion between two elastic balls, it has no connection with morality. These souls show us how in the higher worlds there is an interweaving of natural law with the moral world-order. The manner in which things come about in the higher worlds is dependent on beings whose fate is conditioned by their moral behaviour in the world.
To take another example, we can look at what the seer learns when he turns his attention to a characteristic, the desire for ease and comfort, that is very widespread among men — more widespread than is generally supposed. People indulge far more in indolence than one realises. They are indolent in their thinking, indolent in their manners and behaviour and particularly so when they are required to alter their thinking or their habits. If men were not so ease-loving in their innermost souls, they would not have so often resisted a necessary change in their ideas. They struggled against it because to have to unlearn anything is uncomfortable. After having thought so long that the Earth stood still and that the
Sun and Stars went round it, it was tiresome to have to learn something different when they suddenly heard through Copernicus about the movement of the Earth! It was an uncomfortable thing when — theoretically, at least — the ground was taken from under their feet. All the resistance of those times against this new idea sprang from indolence of thought, from the love of ease, for to unlearn anything is tiresome. But one need merely consider the most ordinary everyday life and one will find how widespread is the quality — really a vice — of indolence. In recent times we have gained some idea of the enormous extent of indolence, love of ease, among humanity. This will be seen from the following example.
There are many theories of political economy. I need not speak about them now. But there is one theory of political economy which is somewhat out of date to-day but once played a great role. It was based upon the idea that all men should be free to compete in the exchange of commodities, etc.; and that the best social structure would be obtained if completely free competition were allowed. Then other, more socialistic theories took root. But latterly some political economists have drawn attention to the fact that all these theories were in the highest degree one-sided. For what takes place in the world of commerce and in social life is much more dependent on the love of ease than on the law of competition or the law of getting on in the world — yes, even more than on the laws of conscious egoism. Thus even into political economy a knowledge of the law of slothfulness finds entry — which means that even in this realm one can discern good sense, and a readiness to recognise facts that cannot be overlooked, unless one adopts an ostrich policy towards life.
Love of ease is a general and widespread attribute of mankind. And if one follows up after death the souls who were subject to it, one sees how this love of ease persists, and how for a certain time after death these souls have to live in a region where — as a result of indolence — they become servants of the god or gods of Opposition, those gods who place particular obstacles in the path of evolution. And these again are spirits under the rule of Ahriman. Ahriman has various things to do; one of his tasks, is to conduct out of the spiritual worlds into the physical world the forces which call forth opposition in physical life. Thus men are on the one hand ease-loving, but on the other hand the fate of lovers of ease is such that when they want to do anything they run up against a general cosmic law. Obstacles are everywhere, and even if they are not in the grotesque form once pictured by a German poet, they are there in the most tragic guise. He called them the “malice of things”. This “malice of things” is especially apparent when, for instance, a preacher in the pulpit is in the midst of a tremendously long tirade and a fly alights on his nose, causing him to sneeze violently. That is the “malice of things”. But it appears first in full force when persons who in this sense are the children of misfortune are exposed to it at every step. Friedrich Theodor Vischer once wrote a novel in which someone was continually exposed to this “malice of things”.
In truth, these things rise from the grotesque to the tragic. All such obstacles are directed from the spiritual worlds and the Lord of Opposition is Ahriman. And souls that are lovers of ease make themselves into servants of Ahriman for a certain time between death and a new birth. On the whole it is not so terrible to see the punishment of the devotees of ease as it is to see the souls who are living in servitude to the spirits of illness and. death. But it shows again how moral and natural law intermingle as soon as we come into the higher worlds.
Such are the experiences that are gone through when one has come to the point described yesterday; and a man has to go through these experiences in order that he may also experience other necessary conditions (we shall see later why “necessary”) and so may advance still further in regard to higher experiences. This matter of ascending into the higher worlds is not such that one can say: To-day you are beginning your ascent into the higher worlds, and then you will mount upwards stage by stage. For him who wants to become an Initiate, things go forward unnoticed in relation to external happenings amid the affairs and events of ordinary life. He does indeed come stage by stage into the higher worlds, but from this sojourn in the higher worlds he must again come forth and live in the ordinary world. From the experiences in the spiritual worlds, however, he brings with him something into the physical world. He realises, after he has become an Initiate, that while moving around in the physical world he is endowed with feelings and perceptions other than those pertaining to anyone who is not a seer. He need only train himself (and a correct schooling will see to this) not to be misled in ordinary life through the alteration of his perceptions and feelings. He must learn to be a seer only for the higher worlds, and not to bring into the ordinary world the characteristics and attitude of soul needed for the higher worlds. This must be strictly avoided. He should be able to be a seer, while remaining as rational as anyone else in the ordinary physical world.
Hence the least suitable persons for the development of seership are those who from the outset are predisposed to be visionaries. Enthusiasts and intellectual idealists, those who already experience in the physical world that which has its justification in the spiritual world; people who in the physical world “hear the grass grow”, who see everywhere the visions of the dreamer, not the realities perceived by a sober disposition; people who indulge their imagination — there are many more such than is generally supposed — such people are of no use for training in seership. Persons who stand with both feet on solid ground, who understand something of actuality and judge things as they are — these are the people best fitted for developing seership.
This will have indicated how a person should not let feelings and perceptions necessary for the physical world be misled through what he acquires for the ascent into the higher worlds. Quite definite feelings and perceptions remain with him, once he has become a seer; in the physical world he will be too, a different person. But in order that this may do him no harm he must also apply these new feelings and perceptions to things in the external physical world to which he had previously paid no attention or had not noticed. Then he will find — not in a bad sense but emphatically in a good one — that his relations with nature are somewhat altered. For instance, he will feel differently towards the plant world which spreads itself like a carpet over the Earth. Formerly he looked at the plants and was delighted with their greenery, with the wealth of flowers and their colours, with everything that the plant world offered to him as it grows out of the Earth and delights the eyes and perhaps the other senses. Let us not think in this connection of some dull, prosaic person, but of someone who can really enjoy to the full the effect which the beauty of the Earth's plant-cover can evoke in the soul. And do not let us imagine that anyone who has become a seer must forfeit in the very least any part of his feeling for the plant-vesture of the Earth. Something else, however, arises within him. When he looks at the plant world he feels that a certain inner relationship links it with Sun, Moon and Stars. In his feeling and perception the green carpet of plants grows together with the out-there in the Cosmos.
Nowadays men build up plenty of abstract ideas on this subject. Everyone with a mere smattering of learning knows how the Earth's carpet of plants is connected with the activity of the light from the Sun; how the plants cannot grow without the specific action of the Sun's rays. And men have some inkling that not only the Sun's activity has an influence on the plant world, but that the rest of the starry world also has an influence. Certainly some people are incredulous about this, but not so long ago there lived a great and significant thinker who applied himself in a thoroughly scientific way to studying the influence of the Moon on the weather, and so on the vegetation of the Earth. I refer to Gustav Theodor Fechner. Not from the standpoint of any superstition, but from that of quite empirical observation, he tried to show that the influence of the new Moon on rainfall is different from that of the full Moon, and so on. There were many people who wanted to prove their scientific outlook by laughing at Gustav Theodor Fechner and his studies of the Moon. One of those who laughed loudest was the celebrated botanist, Schleiden, who voiced his opinion that it certainly does not depend on the full Moon or the new Moon whether for fourteen days we have more rain or less. Fechner replied (conditions then were somewhat more patriarchal than they are to-day): “Let the matter be put to the test indirectly through the women; learned men soon begin to quarrel.” Now the two wives, Frau Professor Schleiden and Frau Professor Fechner, always put out tubs in their Leipzig backyards to catch rain-water for washing-day. Fechner proposed that Frau Professor Schleiden should put out her tubs at new Moon, while his own wife put out hers at full Moon, and they would soon see in which period. the greater quantity of rain would fall. And behold, Frau Professor Schleiden was by no means in agreement with her husband, for she caught the smaller quantity of rain-water!
Thus — ironically, one might say — a decision was reached, though we would not want to attach any value to it now. Later on, however, it will emerge that sunlight, sun-heat, and also the other stellar influences, all have effects on the plant world. At first, this is theoretical knowledge. But the seer has direct perception of how influences from the Earth interact with those from stellar space. He regards them ultimately as one, and he feels as a vital occurrence the pouring out of the sunlight upon the vegetation of the Earth, and again the withdrawal of the sunlight. He feels how it is with the plants when the sunlight is withdrawn from them. As one feels sympathy with a child that is very much attached to its mother when the mother is removed from its sight for a while, so does the seer feel sympathy when the sunlight is withdrawn from the plants? This sympathy with the plant world is an experience that comes to the seer; so that when he has reached the point spoken of in the preceding lecture, he acquires perceptions of such a kind that he becomes a participant in the relations between Earth-growth and plant-growth and the Sun and Stars.
Through the birth of this feeling he is adapted for feeling something else besides. He can feel this something when he returns into the physical world from the spiritual world and looks for instance, at a waking or sleeping person. Also when he has, so to speak, laid aside his seer's gift and sees only the physical world and the sleeping person, then, too, comes the feeling that the sleeper has been forsaken by something. This is very similar to the feeling one has when, for example, in autumn the relation of the Sun's rays to the Earth's vegetation changes in the usual way. Quite similar are the feelings towards nature now forsaken by Sun and Stars to the feelings towards the human organism forsaken by its ego and astral body. And now one has the specific experience that in this respect man is independent of his relation to the physical heavens, whereas the plant-growth is dependent on this relationship. Concerning the plants we know that they cannot go to sleep as they like, owing to their inner constitution; they must wait until the Sun sets in the evening, or until autumn comes. Concerning man we know that in our time, and especially under our conditions of civilisation, he is no longer in the least guided by the Sun. For instance, if we had to guide ourselves by the Sun, as do the plants, we could not be assembled here together. The transition, which for the plants is so strictly ruled by the course of the Sun and Stars, has no influence on man. Certainly if we come into primitive rural conditions and see how not only the fowls but also the village folk go to sleep at a certain time and wake at a certain time, we feel as if there were something of a plant-like connection between human beings and the course of the Sun and Stars. But we have to conclude that in the course of human evolution man has emancipated himself from the cosmic course of events. With his physical and etheric bodies he is able to come into the situation which the plant comes to through the position of the Sun and Stars — he comes to it through inner conditions, I will not say by dint of inner free will. A man can have his afternoon nap through his own inner condition; that is he can come out of his physical and etheric bodies. The plant cannot have an afternoon sleep at will; it has to regulate itself entirely in accordance with the course of the stars. But what is man when as physical and etheric body he lies asleep, with his astral body and his ego outside? His physical and etheric bodies then have the value of the plant. A physical and an etheric body are what the plant has. Considering all this, you may say: A plant grows gradually into connection with the Sun and the starry world, becomes one with them. Hence we must direct our feeling from the plant to the world of the Stars and Sun. This same direction of feeling applies to the sleeping man, who also consists of physical body and etheric body, and has the value of a plant in relation to his ego and astral body, for these, quite independently of the Sun's position, are outside his physical and etheric bodies when he sleeps, just as the physical Sun is outside the physical body and etheric body of the plant.
What I have here explained to you is experienced by the seer. Now when, proceeding from such perceptions, a man deliberately brings about the independence of the ego and astral body from the etheric and physical bodies; when he has got so far as deliberately to make the physical body and the etheric body into a kind of plant by passing out of them, then he comes to know something very strange — it is as if the Sun were speaking, as if it were looking down on the plants and observing itself in relation to them, and then saying: Yes, this physical and this etheric body of the plants belong to me, for they need what I can send them! Exactly as the Sun might speak to the plant growing below, so can the ego of a person say of his physical and etheric bodies: “They belong to me as the plant does to the Sun; I am like a Sun to the physical and etheric bodies.” A Sun to the physical and etheric body — so does a man learn of necessity to speak of his ego. And just as he learns to speak of his ego with reference to his physical and etheric bodies as the Sun would speak to the plant, so does he learn to speak of his astral body as the Moon, and also the planets, would have to speak to the plant. That is a quite special and important experience in the Mysteries. It was cultivated as a real and immediate experience, first in the Mysteries of Zarathustra and then wherever the world was developing, right on to the Mysteries of the Holy Grail.
This experience was always called “Seeing the Sun at midnight”, because a man had it most clearly — especially at the time of the Egyptian Mysteries — when in sleep he saw the Sun spiritually at midnight and felt himself united with the forces of the Sun in the manner described. It was an experiencing of the Sun-element in one's own ego, as a Sun-force that shines upon the physical and etheric bodies. This, then, was a third experience common to all the different Mysteries. Common to them all were, and are, the “Pressing forward to the boundaries of Death”, the “Experiencing of the Elementary World”, and now “Seeing the Sun at midnight”. But it must be clearly understood that at the moment when the seer feels himself isolated and as though sun-like or star-like in relation to his own etheric and physical bodies, he no longer feels the Sun and Stars only in their physical substantiality but becomes acquainted with the spiritual beings and worlds belonging to them. The experiencing of the Cosmos is an experience in the spiritual worlds — one must be quite clear about that.
Now in order to grow up correctly into the higher worlds, and to have the experiences which correspond with the spiritual realities, it is important and necessary that one should first gain acquaintance with the quite different nature of the spiritual world as compared with the physical world. One learns enough of this when, as a seer, one can test and observe the consequences of indolence, or of a lack of conscience for the experience of the soul in the time between death and a new birth, and much else besides. Through these things the seer must, so to speak, open out his soul for conditions essentially different from those on the physical plane. Only then is he ripe for gaining living experience of the spiritual Cosmos, for recognising the inner connection of the ego and the astral body with the Cosmos. Directly one comes to the experience that man, in regard to the highest members of his being, belongs not only to the Earth but is at home in the whole Cosmos, then all previous theorising is seen as a mere playing with words. One knows then that every person, when on going to sleep in the evening he passes out of his physical and etheric bodies, enters into participation with cosmic forces. He seeks strength for himself out of the whole universe, and on reawaking brings back the forces he has gathered during sleep in order to use them in the physical world. The connection with the Cosmos is experienced. at a quite definite stage of the Mysteries. From this stage we will go on to-morrow.
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