Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Eastern spirituality is materialistic
An excerpt from the focus lecture for tomorrow's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle.
Rudolf Steiner, January 1, 1913:
...There is a fundamental difference between what Eastern thought was still able to give us and what we find at once with such wonderful clearness in St. Paul. We pointed out yesterday that, according to Krishna, everything depended on man's finding his way out of the changing forms. But Prakriti remains outside, as something foreign to the soul. All the striving in this Eastern method of development and even in the Eastern initiation tends to free one from material existence, from that which is spread outside in nature; for that, according to the Veda philosophy, is merely maya. Everything external is maya, and to be free from maya is Yoga. We have pointed out how in the Gita it is expected of man that he shall become free from all he does and accomplishes, from what he wills and thinks, from what he likes and enjoys, and in his soul shall triumph over everything external. The work that man accomplishes should equally fall away from him, and thus resting within himself, he shall find satisfaction.
Thus he who wishes to develop according to the Krishna teaching aspires to become something like a Paramahansa, that is to say, a high Initiate who leaves all material existence behind him, who triumphs over all he has himself accomplished by his actions in this world of sense, and lives a purely spiritual existence, having so overcome what belongs to the senses that he no longer thirsts for reincarnation, that he has nothing more to do with what filled his life and at which he worked in this sense-world. Thus it is the issuing forth from this maya, the triumphing over it, which meets us everywhere in the Gita.
With St. Paul it is not so. If he had met with these Eastern teachings, something in the depth of his soul would have caused the following words to come forth: “Yes, thou wishest to rise above all that surrounds thee outside, from that also which thou formerly accomplished there! Dost thou wish to leave all that behind thee? Is not then all that the work of God, is not everything above which thou wishest to lift thyself created by the Divine Spirit? In despising that, art thou not despising the work of God? Does not the revelation of God's Spirit dwell everywhere within it? Didst thou not at first seek to represent God in thine own work, in love and faith and devotion, and now desirest thou to triumph over what is the work of God?”
It would be well, my dear friends, if we were to inscribe these words of St. Paul — which though unspoken were felt in the depths of his soul — deeply into our own souls; for they express an important part of what we know as Western revelation. In the Pauline sense, we too speak of the maya which surrounds us. We certainly say: We are surrounded by maya. But we also say: Is there not spiritual revelation in this maya, is it not all divine spiritual work? Is it not blasphemy to fail to understand that there is divine spiritual work in all things?
Now arises the other question: Why is that maya there? Why do we see maya around us? The West does not stop at the question as to whether all is maya: it inquires as to the wherefore of maya. Then follows an answer that leads us into the center of the soul — into Purusha. Because the soul once came under the power of Lucifer it sees everything through the veil of maya and spreads the veil of maya over everything. Is it the fault of objectivity that we see maya? No. To us as souls objectivity would appear in all its truth, if we had not come under the power of Lucifer. It only appears to us as maya because we are not capable of seeing down into the foundations of what is spread out there. That comes from the soul's having come under the power of Lucifer; it is not the fault of the Gods, it is the fault of our own soul. Thou, O soul, hast made the world a maya to thyself, because thou hast fallen into the power of Lucifer.
From the highest spiritual grasp of this formula, down to the words of Goethe: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives,” is one straight line. The Philistines and zealots may fight against Goethe and his Christianity as much as they like; he might nevertheless say that he is one of the most Christian of men, for in the depths of his being he thought as a Christian, even in that very formula: “The senses do not deceive, but the judgment deceives.” It is the soul's own fault that what it sees appears as maya and not as truth. So that which in Orientalism appears simply as an act of Gods themselves is diverted into the depths of the human soul, where the great struggle with Lucifer takes place.
Thus Orientalism, if we consider it aright, is in a certain sense materialism, in that it does not recognize the spirituality of maya, and wishes to rise above matter. That which pulses through the Epistles of St. Paul is a doctrine of the soul, although only existing in germ and therefore capable of being so mistaken and misunderstood as in our Tamas-time, but it will in the future be visibly spread out over the whole Earth. This, concerning the peculiar nature of maya, will have to be understood; for only then can one understand the full depth of that which is the object of the progress of human evolution. Then only does one understand what St. Paul means when he speaks of the first Adam, who succumbed to Lucifer in his soul, and who was therefore more and more entangled in matter — which means nothing else than this: ensnared in a false experiencing of matter. As God's creation, external matter is good: what takes place there is good. But what the soul experiences in the course of human evolution became more and more evil, because in the beginning the soul fell into the power of Lucifer.
Therefore St. Paul called Christ the Second Adam, for He came into the world untempted by Lucifer, and therefore He can be a guide and friend to men's souls, who can lead them away from Lucifer, that is, into the right relationship to Him. St. Paul could not tell mankind at that time all that he as an Initiate knew; but if we allow his Epistles to work on us we shall see that there is more in their depths than they express externally. That is because St. Paul spoke to a community, and had to reckon with the understanding of that community. That is why in certain of his Epistles there seem to be absolute contradictions. But one who can plunge down into the depths finds everywhere the impulse of the Christ-Being.
Let us here remember, my dear friends, how we ourselves have represented the coming into existence of the Mystery of Golgotha. As time went on we recognized that there were two different stories of the youth, of Christ Jesus, in the Gospel of St. Matthew and that of St. Luke, because in reality there are two Jesus boys in question. We have seen that externally — after the flesh, according to St. Paul, which means through physical descent — both Jesus boys descended from the stock of David; that one came from the line of Nathan and the other from that of Solomon; that thus there were two Jesus boys born at about the same time. In the one Jesus child, that of St. Matthew's Gospel, we find Zarathustra reincarnated: and we have emphatically stated that in the other Jesus child, the one described by St. Luke, there was no such human ego as is usually to be found, and certainly not as the one existing in the other Jesus child, in whom lived such a highly evolved ego as that of Zarathustra. In the Luke-Jesus there actually lives that part of man that has not entered into human evolution on the Earth. [See also Steiner's The Spiritual Guidance of Mankind, the Gospel of St. Luke, the Gospel of St. Matthew.]
It is rather difficult to form a right conception of this but we must just try to think how, so to speak, the soul that was incarnated in Adam, he who may be described as Adam in the sense of my book Occult Science, succumbed to Lucifer's temptation, symbolically described in the Bible as the Fall of Man in Paradise. We must picture this. Then we must picture further that side by side with that human soul-nature which incarnated in Adam's body there was a human part, a human being, that remained behind and did not then incarnate, that did not enter a physical body, but remained “pure soul.” You need only now picture how, before a physical man arose in the evolution of humanity, there was one soul, which then divided itself into two parts. The one part, the one descendant of the common soul, incarnated in Adam and thus entered into the line of incarnations, succumbed to Lucifer, and so on. As to the other soul, the sister-soul, as it were, the wise rulers of the world saw beforehand that it would not be good that this too should be embodied; it was kept back in the soul world; it did not therefore take part in the incarnations of humanity, but was kept back. With this soul none but the Initiates of the Mysteries had intercourse.
During the evolution preceding the Mystery of Golgotha this soul did not, therefore, take into itself the experience of an ego, for this can only be obtained by incarnating in a human body. Nonetheless, it had all the Wisdom that could have been attained through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, it possessed all the love of which a human soul is capable. This soul remained blameless, as it were, of all the guilt that a man can acquire in the course of his incarnations in human evolution. It could not be met with as a human being externally; but it could be perceived by the old clairvoyants, and was recognized by them; they encountered it, so to say, in the Mysteries. Thus, here we have a soul, one might say, that was within, but yet above, the evolution of mankind, that could at first only be perceived in the spirit; a pre-man, a true super-man.
It was this soul which, instead of an ego, was incarnated in the Jesus-child of St. Luke's Gospel. You will remember the lectures at Basle; this fact was already given out there. We have therefore to do with a soul that is only ego-like, one that naturally acts as an ego when it permeates the body of Jesus, but which in all it displays is yet quite different from an ordinary ego. I have already mentioned the fact that the boy of St. Luke's Gospel spoke a language understood by his mother as soon as he came into the world, and other facts of similar nature were to he observed in him.
Then we know that the Matthew-Jesus, in whom lived the Zarathustra ego, grew up until his twelfth year, and the Luke-child also grew up, possessing no particular human knowledge or science, but bearing the divine wisdom and the divine power of sacrifice within him. Thus the Luke-Jesus grew up not being particularly gifted for what can be learnt externally. We know further that the body of the Matthew-Jesus was forsaken by the Zarathustra ego, and that in the twelfth year of the Luke-Jesus his body was taken possession of by that same Zarathustra-ego. That is the moment referred to when it is related of the twelve-year-old Jesus of Luke's Gospel that when his parents lost him he stood teaching before the wise men of the Temple.
We know further that this Luke-Jesus bore the Zarathustra ego within him up to his thirtieth year; that the Zarathustra ego then left the body of the Luke-Jesus, and all its sheaths were taken possession of by Christ, a superhuman Being of the higher Hierarchies, Who only could live in a human body at all inasmuch as a body was offered Him which had first been permeated up to its twelfth year with the pre-human Wisdom-forces, and the pre-human divine Love-forces, and was then permeated through and through by all that the Zarathustra ego had acquired through many incarnations by means of initiation. In no other way, perhaps, could one so well obtain the right respect, the right reverence, in short, the right feeling altogether for the Christ-Being as by trying to understand what sort of a body was needed for this Christ-Ego to be able to enter humanity at all.
Many people consider that in this presentation, given out of the holy Mysteries of the newer age about the Christ-Being, He is thus made to appear less intimate and human than the Christ-Jesus so many have honored in the way in which He is generally represented — familiar, near to man, incarnate in an ordinary human body in which nothing like a Zarathustra ego lived. It is brought as a reproach against our teaching that Christ-Jesus is here represented as composed of forces drawn from all regions of the cosmos.
Such reproaches proceed only from the indolence of human perception and human feeling which is unwilling to raise itself to the true heights of perception and feeling. The greatest of all must be so grasped by us that our souls have to make the supremest possible efforts to attain the inner intensity of perception and feeling necessary to bring the Greatest, the Highest, at all near to our soul. Our first feelings will thus be raised higher still, if we do but consider them in this light.
We know one other thing besides. We know how we have to understand the words of the Gospel: “Divine forces are being revealed in the Heights, and peace will spread among men of goodwill.” We know that this message of peace and love resounded when the Luke-Jesus appeared, because Buddha intermingled with the astral body of the Luke-Jesus; Buddha, who had already lived in a being who went through his last incarnation as Gautama Buddha and had risen to complete spirituality. So that in the astral body of the Luke-Jesus, Buddha revealed himself, as he had progressed up to the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha on Earth.
Thus we have the Being of Christ Jesus presented before us in a way only now possible to mankind from the basis of occult science. St. Paul, although an Initiate, was compelled to speak in concepts more easily understood at that time; he could not then have assumed a humanity able to understand such concepts as we have brought before your hearts today. His inspiration, however, was derived from his initiation, which came about as an act of grace. Because he did not attain this through regular schooling in the old Mysteries, but by grace on the road to Damascus when the risen Christ appeared to him, therefore I call this initiation one brought about by grace. But he experienced this Damascus Vision in such a way that by means of it he knew that He Who arose in the Mystery of Golgotha lives in the sphere of this Earth and has been attached to it since that Event. He recognized the risen Christ. From that time on he proclaimed Him.
Why was he able to see Him in the particular way he did? At this point we must enter somewhat into the nature of such a vision, such a manifestation, as that of Damascus: for it was a vision, a manifestation, of a quite peculiar kind. Only those people who never wish to learn anything of occult facts consider all visions as being of one kind. They will not distinguish such an occurrence as the vision of St. Paul from many other visions such as appeared to the saints later. What really was the reason that St. Paul could recognize Christ as he did when He appeared to him on the way to Damascus? Why did the certain conviction come to him that this was the risen Christ? This question leads us back to another one: What was necessary in order that the whole Christ-Being should be able completely to enter into Jesus of Nazareth, at the baptism by John in the Jordan? Now, we have just said what was necessary to prepare the body into which the Christ-Being could descend. But what was necessary in order that the Arisen One could appear in such a densified soul-form as he appeared in to St. Paul? What, then, so to speak, was that halo of light in which Christ appeared to St. Paul before Damascus? What was it? Whence was it taken?
If we wish to answer these questions, my dear friends, we must add a few finishing touches to what I have already said. I have told you that there was, as it were, a sister-soul to the Adam-soul, to that soul which entered into the sequence of human generations. This sister-soul remained in the soul world. It was this sister-soul that was incarnated in the Luke-Jesus.
But it was not then incarnated for the first time in a human body in the strictest sense of the words: it had already been once incarnated prophetically. This soul had already been made use of formerly as a messenger of the holy Mysteries; it was, so to say, cherished and cultivated in the Mysteries, and was sent whenever anything specially important to man was taking place; but it could only appear as a vision in the etheric body, and could only be perceived, strictly speaking, as long as the old clairvoyance remained. In earlier ages that still existed. Therefore this old sister-soul of Adam had no need at that time to descend as far as the physical body in order to be seen. So it actually appeared on Earth repeatedly in human evolution: sent forth by the impulses of the Mysteries at all times when important things were to take place in the evolution of the Earth; but it did not require to incarnate in ancient times, because clairvoyance was there.
The first time it needed to incarnate was when the old clairvoyance was to be overcome through the transition of human evolution from the third to the fourth Post-Atlantean age, of which we spoke yesterday. Then, by way of compensation, it took on an incarnation, in order to be able to express itself at the time when clairvoyance no longer existed. The only time this sister-soul of Adam was compelled to appear and to become physically visible, it was incorporated, so to speak, in Krishna; and then it was incorporated again in the Luke-Jesus.
So now we can understand how it was that Krishna spoke in such a superhuman manner, why he is the best teacher for the human ego, why he represents, so to speak, a victory over the ego, why he appears so psychically sublime. It is because he appears as human being at that sublime moment which we brought before our souls in the lecture before last, as Man not yet descended into human incarnations. He then appears again to be embodied in the Luke-Jesus.
Hence that perfection that came about when the most significant world-conceptions of Asia, the ego of Zarathustra and the spirit of Krishna, were united in the twelve-year-old Jesus described by St. Luke. He who spoke to the learned men in the Temple was therefore not only Zarathustra speaking as an ego, but one who spoke from those sources from which Krishna at one time drew Yoga; he spoke of Yoga raised a stage higher; he united himself with the Krishna force, with Krishna himself, in order to continue to grow until his thirtieth year. Then only have we that complete, perfected body which could be taken possession of by the Christ. Thus do the spiritual currents of humanity flow together. So that in what happened at the Mystery of Golgotha, we really have a cooperation of the most important leaders of mankind, a synthesis of spirit-life.
When St. Paul had his vision before Damascus, He Who appeared to him then was the Christ. The halo of light in which Christ was enveloped was Krishna. And because Christ has taken Krishna for His own soul-covering through which He then works on further, therefore in the light which shone there, in Christ Himself, there is all that was once upon a time contained in the sublime Gita. We find much of that old Krishna-teaching, although scattered about, in the New Testament revelations.
This old Krishna-teaching has on that account become a personal matter to the whole of mankind, because Christ is not as such a human ego belonging to mankind, but to the Higher Hierarchies, Thus Christ belongs also to those times when man was not yet separated from that which now surrounds him as material existence, and which is veiled to him in maya through his own Luciferic temptation. If we glance back over the whole of evolution we shall find that in those olden times there was not yet that strict division between the spiritual and the material; material was then still spiritual, and the spiritual — if we may say so — still manifested itself externally. Thus because, in the Christ-Impulse, something entered into mankind which completely prevented such a strict separation as we find in Sankhya philosophy between Purusha and Prakriti, Christ becomes the Leader of men out of themselves and toward the divine creation.
Must we then say that we must unconditionally give up maya now that we recognize that it seems to be given us through our own fault? No, for that would be blaspheming the spirit in the world; that would be assigning to matter properties which we ourselves have imposed upon it with the veil of maya. Let us rather hope that when we have overcome in ourselves that which caused matter to become maya, we may again be reconciled with the world.
For do we not hear resounding out of the world around us that it is a creation of the Elohim, and that on the last day of creation they considered: And behold, all was very good? That would be the karma to be fulfilled if there were nothing but Krishna-teaching (for there is nothing in the world that does not fulfil its karma). If in all eternity there had been only the teaching of Krishna, then the material existence which surrounds us, the manifestation of God of which the Elohim at the starting-point of evolution said: “Behold all was very good,” would encounter the judgment of men: “It is not good, I must abandon it!” The judgment of man would be placed above the judgment of God. We must learn to understand the words which stand as a mystery at the outset of evolution; we must not set the judgment of man above the judgment of God. If all and everything that could cling to us in the way of guilt were to fall away from us, and yet that one fault remained, that we slandered the work of the Elohim, the Earth-karma would have to be fulfilled; in the future everything would have to fall upon us and karma would have to fulfil itself thus.
In order that this should not happen, Christ appeared in the world, so to reconcile us with the world that we may learn to overcome Lucifer's tempting forces, and learn to penetrate the veil; that we may see the divine revelation in its true form; that we may find the Christ as the Reconciler, Who will lead us to the true form of the divine revelation, so that through Him we may learn to understand the primeval words: “And behold, it is very good.” In order that we may learn to ascribe to ourselves that which we may never again dare to ascribe to the world, we need Christ; for if all our other sins could be taken away from us, yet this sin could be removed only by Him. This, transformed into a moral feeling, is a newer side of the Christ-Impulse. It shows us at the same time why the necessity arose for the Christ-Impulse as the higher soul to envelop itself in the Krishna-Impulse.
An exposition such as I have given you in this course, my dear friends, should not be taken as mere theory, merely as a number of thoughts and ideas to be absorbed; it should be taken as a sort of New Year's gift, a gift which should influence our New Year, and from now on it should work as that which we can perceive through the understanding of the Christ-Impulse, in so far as this helps us to understand the words of the Elohim, which resound down to us from the starting point, from the very primeval beginning, of the creation of our Earth.
And look upon the intention of this course at the same time as the starting point of our Anthroposophical spiritual stream. This must be Anthroposophical because by means of it it will be more and more recognized how man can in himself attain to self-knowledge. He cannot yet attain to complete self-knowledge, not yet can Anthropos attain to knowledge of Anthropos, man to the knowledge of man, so long as this man can consider what he has to carry out in his own soul as an affair to be played out between him and external nature. That the world should appear to us to be immersed in matter is a thing the Gods have prepared for us, it is an affair of our own souls, a question of higher self-knowledge; it is something that man must himself recognize in his own manhood, it is a question of Anthroposophy, by means of which we can come to the perception of what theosophy may become to mankind.
It should be a feeling of the greatest modesty which impels a man to belong to the Anthroposophical movement; a modesty which says: If I want to spring over that which is an affair of the human soul and to take at once the highest step into the divine, humility may very easily vanish from me, and pride step in, in its place; vanity may easily install itself. May the Anthroposophical Society also be a starting point in this higher moral sphere; above all, may it avoid all that has so easily crept into the theosophical movement in the way of pride, vanity, ambition, and want of earnestness in receiving that which is the highest Wisdom. May the Anthroposophical Society avoid all this because from its very starting point it has already considered that the settlement with maya is an affair for the human soul itself.
One should feel that the Anthroposophical Society ought to be the result of the profoundest human modesty. For out of this modesty should well up deep earnestness as regards the sacred truths into which it will penetrate if we betake ourselves into this sphere of the supersensible, of the spiritual. Let us therefore understand the adoption of the name “Anthroposophical Society” in true modesty, in true humility, saying to ourselves: Let all that remains of that pride and lack of modesty, vanity, ambition, and untruthfulness that played a part under the name of Theosophy be eradicated, if now, under the sign and device of modesty, we begin humbly to look up to the Gods and divine wisdom, and on the other hand dutifully to study man and human wisdom, if we reverently approach Spiritual Science and dutifully devote ourselves to Anthroposophy.
This Anthroposophy will lead to the divine and to the Gods if by its help we learn in the highest sense to look humbly and truthfully into our own selves and see how we must struggle against all maya and error through self-training and the severest self-discipline. Then, as written on a bronze tablet, may there stand above us the word: Anthroposophy! Let that be an exhortation to us, that above all we should seek through it to acquire self-knowledge, modesty, and in this way endeavor to erect a building founded upon truth, for truth can only blossom if self-knowledge lays hold of the human soul in deep earnestness.
What is the origin of all vanity, of all untruth? The want of self-knowledge. From what alone can truth spring, from what can true reverence for divine worlds and divine wisdom alone come? From true self-knowledge, self-training, self-discipline. Therefore may that which shall stream and pulsate through the Anthroposophical movement serve that purpose.
For these reasons this particular course of lectures has been given at the starting point of the Anthroposophical movement, and it should prove that there is no question of narrowness, but that precisely through our movement we can extend our horizon over those distances which comprise Eastern thought also.
But let us take this humbly in self-educative anthroposophical fashion, by creating the will within us to discipline and train ourselves. If Anthroposophy, my dear friends, be taken up among you in this way, it will then lead to a beneficial end and will attain a goal that can extend to each individual and every human society for their welfare.
So let these words be spoken which shall be the last of this course of lectures, but something of which perhaps many in the coming days will take away with them in their souls, so that it may bear fruit within our Anthroposophical movement, within which you, my dear friends, have, so to speak, met together for the first time. May we ever so meet together in the sign of Anthroposophy that we have the right to call upon words with which we shall now conclude, words of humility and of self-knowledge, which we should now at this moment place as an ideal before our souls.
Image: from Kim Graae Munch