Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Evolutionary changes in the human being. Oedipus and Judas
The East in the Light of the West. Lecture 7 of 9
Rudolf Steiner, August 29, 1909:
There are certain facts in the evolution of mankind which are hardly noticed in outer life. As a result there is misunderstanding of much that is being fulfilled in the spiritual depths underlying human evolution. It has been shown that the mystical Christ experience — such an experience as a man may have when by profound, inner life he permeates his soul experiences with what we have called the Christ substance — was not always possible, but became so in the course of time. The historical descent into incarnation of the Christ was a necessary preparation for the presence of the mystical Christ in the soul. It is not correct to say that in pre-Christian times the mystical Christ experience had always been possible; individuals such as Meister Eckhart and other similar personalities with their inner mystical experiences are only possible in the Christian epoch; such experiences would not have been possible at an earlier time. Abstract thinking will be fundamentally unable to understand this; only concrete and spiritually realistic thinking dealing with facts would find its way to these things.
Again, the description of the Luciferic beings and the Christ can only be comprehensible if we assume that a change took place in the whole human organization. A change, it is true, not to be realized by the external senses or the outer reason, but nonetheless a radical change. This was accomplished during the last thousand years before the appearance of Christ and during the centuries following His appearance.
Since the Atlantean catastrophe man has essentially changed. And although in the present cycle of humanity the important thing is that man on incarnation depends for his perception of the world, so far as his outer experiences are concerned, upon the instruments which are at his disposal in the envelopes of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies, yet the nature of his perception and realization through subsequent epochs depends upon the changes which this organization undergoes. There is no such thing as a conception of the world which holds good for all times. Men's perception of the world is conditioned by his organization.
Now let us call up before our minds the most radical change in the nature of man which has occurred since the Atlantean catastrophe. Before this the different members of our human nature were connected otherwise than they grew to be later on. The etheric body did not cooperate with the physical body during the Atlantean era in the way it has done since. Formerly the etheric body of the head, for instance, extended further above the physical head, and the progress of evolution is expressed by the very fact that the etheric and physical bodies grew more alike and their connection closer and closer.
Now, it is in the etheric body that all the forces necessary for the organization of the physical body reside, all those forces which unite the members of the physical body and produce harmony between them. In the humanity of Atlantis the forces of the etheric body and especially of the head worked at the building of the physical body from outside. Later these forces drew within the space filled by the physical body and at the present day they work more in man's inner being, animating and stimulating it. But this was only a matter of development. And if we wish to understand the old Indian culture we must clearly realize that the conditions were quite different from what they became during the Chaldean-Egyptian epoch. But in humanity of the Graeco-Latin epoch, there was such a complete permeation of the physical body by the etheric body that in no part of the human organization would clairvoyant consciousness have perceived the etheric body extending far beyond the physical body.
This had not been the case with the old Indians. Their clairvoyant vision perceived the etheric body still extending, especially as regards the head, out beyond the physical body. Hence a native of Old India saw the world quite otherwise than did a native of Old Egypt. A man belonging to the Graeco-Latin people saw the world much as it is to be seen today, i.e. as a sense-tapestry of colors, shades, etc. But the whole of this world which lies spread out before the present day sense perceptions was to the Indian spirit of the olden times finely permeated by what we might today call the misty cloud characteristic of etheric nature. It arose from all things, for they all looked as if they were burning, and a fine misty smoke arose out of each form. The manner of perceiving then was what might be called a seeing of the etheric element, which was spread out over everything like dew or hoar frost. That peculiar kind of sight was then natural. At the present day the human soul can only attain to it by means of special exercises given by spiritual science. The object of the progressive evolution of mankind through the different periods of civilization is to cause the etheric body to descend deeper and deeper into the physical body.
Thus the whole manner of human perception alters, for all human perception depends upon the way in which the etheric body is organized. And this in its turn is connected with the fact that the Luciferic beings manifesting within the Earth and within the soul have risen to the state of cosmic beings, and that the Christ-Being Who was formerly a cosmic being descended into incarnation in a human body and has now become an inner being.
This permeation of the Apollonian with the Dionysian principle — this transposition, as it were — only became possible because of a corresponding change in the human organization. It was change that not only affected the past, but was also a preparation for the future. We live in a time when the most complete inner permeation of the physical by the etheric body is already a thing of the past; a time when the tendency of evolution is in the opposite direction. We live in an era in which the etheric body is slowly emerging from the physical body. The normal development of humanity will in the future consist in the gradual emergence of the etheric body from the physical body; the time will come when the human organization will once again wear the appearance which it wore in grey primeval ages, and we shall again see the etheric body spreading out beyond the human physical body. We are in the middle of this transition, and many of the more subtle diseases characteristic of the present time would be understood if this were known.
But all this has a meaning and corresponds with great cosmic laws, for man could not attain the goal of his evolution unless he thus underwent a transposition of the constituent parts of his organization. Now, everything within us is permeated by our whole surroundings; and by the divine spiritual beings in the spiritual world sending their currents down into us, just as the physical elements of the Earth send their currents into our physical organization. At the time when the etheric body was outside the physical body, currents were perpetually pouring into this etheric body; man experienced this consciously as a cosmic revelation, as something revealed to him inwardly. These currents descending into his etheric body from the spiritual world also worked at the perfecting of his physical body.
Now, that which descended into the etheric body of man and was experienced as the most inward element of his being was the influence of the Luciferic world, a great and powerful inheritance brought over from the old ages of the pre-Atlantean evolution. The fact that these Luciferic influences had become so much darkened that man at the very time when Christ appeared could perceive nothing of them, unless he had reached a high grade of initiation, is explained by the fact that the etheric body drew more and more inside the physical body and became one with it; and man learned to make increasing use of the physical organs as instruments. It was therefore necessary that the divine spiritual being shortly to appear on Earth should be manifest on the physical plane as a figure able to be perceived physically, incarnate like other physical beings upon the Earth. Only thus could mankind have at that time understood a God appearing in a body, because it had become accustomed to consider true only what could be observed by means of the instrument of the human physical body. This had to come to pass before those who surrounded the Christ could say by way of emphasizing an event: ‘We have placed our hands in His wounds, and our fingers in the prints of the nails.’ This certainty yielded by the senses had to live as a feeling in those men, a feeling which gave the stamp of truth to the event. To that sort of testimony a man of the old Indian age would have attached no importance; he would have said: ‘The spiritual perceived by means of the senses means nothing much to me; in order to realize the spiritual there must be ascent to a certain grade of clairvoyant cognition.’ Understanding of Christ therefore had gradually to be developed like everything else in the world.
The Luciferic impulse, however, which man formerly had in his etheric body, gradually became exhausted. That which he had brought with him out of primeval ages, when his etheric body did not as yet dwell entirely in the physical body but was still outside and received the Luciferic influence through the portion that still was outside, was gradually used up. In order that the etheric body might slip into the physical body it had to lose the capacity of realizing the higher worlds through its etheric organs. Therefore at a certain epoch it is true to say of our human ancestors that they were still able to see into the spiritual worlds, and what they saw is preserved in their literature. There was, as it were, a primeval wisdom. The reason why later this was not more directly attainable was that as the etheric body was taken up into the physical body, man could only make use of his physical senses and of his physical reason. Clairvoyant power was paralyzed. The faculty of seeing into the spiritual world was therefore only possible in the initiates who ascended to the supersensible worlds by means of systematic training.
The reverse process is now being enacted. Mankind is entering a condition in which the etheric body is to a certain extent drawing itself out of the physical body again; but it must not be thought that it now receives spontaneously everything which in earlier times it possessed as an ancient heritage. If nothing else happened but its withdrawal, the etheric body of man would just leave the physical body and would retain in itself none of the forces which it formerly possessed. In the future it will be born from out of the human physical body. If the human physical body did not add something to it, this etheric body would be empty, barren. The future of human evolution will be that men will, as it were, allow their etheric body to leave their physical bodily nature, and they will eventually have the possibility of being able to send it out empty.
What does that mean? The etheric body is the force-bearer, the energizer of all that takes place in the physical body. It must not only provide forces for the physical body when it is entirely concealed within it, but at all times; it must provide forces for the physical body even when it is again partly outside it. If the etheric body is left empty it cannot react upon the physical body, for it would then have no strength with which to react. The etheric body must, after it has passed through the physical body, have obtained its forces from within the physical body. The forces with which the etheric body can react again upon the physical body must have been drawn from within the latter. The task of present-day humanity is to absorb into itself that which can only be acquired through activity in a physical body. That which is gained within the physical body accompanies evolution, and when man in future incarnations lives in organisms wherein the etheric body is to a certain extent released from the physical body, he will experience in his consciousness a kind of memory through the partially liberated physical body.
Now let us ask ourselves: What enables the physical body to hand something on like an heirloom to the etheric body? What enables a man to send such forces into his etheric body that someday he will be in a position to bear an etheric body itself and able to send back certain forces into the physical body from outside? Suppose man's life, let us say, from 3000 BC to our own era and on to 3000 AD, had been such that nothing more was added to him than what would have been his without the coming of Christ; he would then have experienced in his physical body nothing that might bestow a power on the etheric body when it is released from the physical body. That which a man can hand on is what he can gain within the physical world through the Christ event. All association with the Christ principle and the experiences we may have in connection with the appearance of Christ sink down into the life of the soul in the physical world, and the soul as well as all that is physical are prepared in such a way that there can flow into the etheric body that which it will need in the future. Therefore the Christ event had to take place, to permeate the human soul in order that men should be able to understand their future evolution. That which is in the physical body today sends out forces into the etheric body; and the etheric body, nourished by the physical experiences of the Christ, will take up these forces, in order again to become clairvoyant and possess the life-forces which will sustain the physical body in the future. Hence what man experiences of Christ through the reversal of the principles has its proper bearing upon the future of human evolution.
But this alone would not suffice. By passing through the Christ experience in our own souls, by becoming more and more familiar with the Christ, and by letting Him grow more and more into our soul experiences, we do indeed thus influence the etheric body, and pour streams of force into it. Now, if this etheric body withdraws and enters into a wrong element it will undoubtedly have the Christ force — but if it does not meet there the forces which are able to work in a sustaining and enlivening way upon the Christ principle which has entered it, it will find itself in a sphere in which it cannot live. The outer forces would destroy it. It would, being permeated with the Christ and having entered an unsuitable element, be faced with its own destruction, and would react destructively upon the physical body.
Furthermore, the etheric body must make itself fit once more to receive the light out of which it originally sprang forth, the light from the realm of Lucifer. Whereas by an inner experience man formerly saw Lucifer appear through the veil of his soul-life, he must now prepare himself to be able to experience Lucifer as a cosmic being in the world around him. From having been a sub-terrestrial god, Lucifer becomes a cosmic god. Man must prepare himself in such a way that his etheric body is provided with such forces as make Lucifer a fructifying and a beneficent element instead of a destructive one. Man has to pass through the Christ experience, but in such a way that he becomes capable of recognizing in this world the spiritual fabric of which the world was created.
Training such as spiritual science offers is fully empowered to prepare the whole nature of man again to understand the light of Lucifer's realm, because only thus can the human etheric body receive life forces adequate to it. Christ was influencing man even before He appeared upon the Earth. As long ago as the age when Zarathustra was pointing up to Ahura Mazdao, the force of Christ was radiating down. And from the other direction there shone the power of Lucifer,
That is reversed, as we have seen; in the future the forces of Lucifer will stream in from outside, while the Christ will dwell within. The human organization must again be influenced from two sides. The old Indian realized on the one side ‘That thou art,’ and on the other side ‘I am the all,’ and knew that the world which he saw outside was the same as that within. In ancient Indian times this was realized as an abstract truth; it will be realized on Earth as a concrete experience of the soul when the time is accomplished, when by means of suitable preparation that which was manifest prophetically among the ancient Indians shall come to life again in a new form. Thus does human evolution proceed in the post-Atlantean epoch.
Hence it is clear that the evolution of humanity does not move in a straight line, but runs its course, as does everything in nature. I have given the example of a plant, which grows but cannot develop its fruit unless a new factor comes into its development. Here is a picture which shows that other influences must come in from another side. There is no such thing as an evolution which proceeds along a straight line. The Luciferic and the Christ principles had to overlap one another. Those who seek to find an undeviating evolution can never understand the world evolution; only those who notice the divided streams and how they mutually fructify each other can really understand evolution.
During the old Indian civilization, when man was in a certain sense differently organized, his outlook was different. What man's outlook then was can only be definitely experienced by means of that kind of clairvoyant research which is suitable for the present age. And clairvoyance is a power which today has to be acquired by effort, although it was at one age a natural faculty. It is very difficult indeed, even for those who have a thorough knowledge of spiritual science, to understand how much the soul-experiences in the old Indian age different from those of later times, and one can only try to clothe this difference in words which approximate to the real sense.
When man looks out into the world today, he perceives it through his various senses. We cannot here go into all that modern science has to say about sense-perception; it will suffice to hold in our mind the usual conception that man perceives the outer world by means of his various senses, and gathers the different impressions together by means of the spiritual faculty that is bound up with the physical brain.
Think this over a little, and it will become evident that there is a great difference in the character of the different sense-perceptions; compare, for instance, the sense of hearing with that of sight. It is evident that as regards hearing, if we look in the outer world for the facts corresponding to it, we find matter in movement, air in regular motion. If our instrument of hearing is brought into contact with this air which is in motion we experience what is called hearing. But the inner experience of hearing and the air in motion without, are two very different things.
Now, sight is not such a simple thing as hearing, though physicists have made it appear to be so. Their postulate, built up by analogy, runs somewhat as follows: Let us take, they say, one of the finer substances which moves just as does the air outside. But the realistic thinker sees a great difference, viz. that as regards the ear, one can very easily detect what moves outside. It can easily be proved that something really does move outside — as far as the ear is concerned — by putting little paper riders on a violin string and striking it. But nobody can see for himself the existence of vibrations in the ether. It is a hypothesis; it exists only as a theory of physics and is non-existent for the realistic thinker. Sense perception by means of sight is a very different thing. What is perceived through light is much more objective than what is sensed through hearing. We perceive light as color, we perceive it spread out in space; but we cannot, as in the case of sound, go into the outer world in search of external processes.
Such distinctions as these are readily overlooked by man of modern times. The old Indian, possessing a finer consciousness of the whole outer world, could not have overlooked this. He perceived all these delicate external distinctions. I only want to point out that there are characteristic and essential differences between the realms of the various senses.
If we consider the German language it may strike us that with the same word we express an inner soul experience and an impression that comes, in a sense, from outside (I admit that this happens in incorrect speaking). That word is the word ‘feeling.’ We speak of the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. When speaking of feeling in a superficial way we mean the sense of touch, but call it feeling and add that which is experienced by this sense to the outer sense experiences. Again, inspired by the genius of speech, we define in a much more spiritual sense than is generally realized an inner soul experience by the wood ‘feeling.’ Experiences of joy or pain are defined as feelings. This particular feeling of which we are here speaking is an intimate soul experience; the other feelings, produced by the sense of touch, are always caused by some external object.
The other feeling may be associated with an external object, but it can be seen that an external object is not the only cause, because the effect upon one person is different from the effect upon another. We have two experiences, one connected with the external sense, the other bound to the inner. These two at the present day appear to be widely divided, but this was not always the case.
Here we come to another view of what has previously been described in an external sense. We have described how the etheric body slips in and out again. This is connected with the fact that something takes place in the inner being of man. Today these two experiences — the experience of ‘feeling’ within one and the experience caused by personal contact with an external object which we also describe by the word ‘feeling’ — are widely divided. The further we go back in the evolution of humanity, that is to say, the further the etheric body is outside the physical body, so much the nearer are these two experiences to one another. They are only widely divided in mankind today. In the Indian epoch this difference did not exist to the same extent. At that time the inner experience of feeling and the outer were more like each other. Why was that?
If you meet a man today who has an evil thought about you (let us say you dislike him and he has the same sort of feeling towards you), you will, as a general rule, if you are only provided with the external senses and the physical brain, not be deeply aware of his feelings, of his sympathies and antipathies. If he should strike you, you would be aware of it, because your sense of feeling would notice it. In the old Indian times there was a different state of things. Man then was so organized that he was not only aware of that which is felt by the present crude sense of touch, but also of that which today has withdrawn into his inner being; he was still able to sense what someone else felt about him. Through sympathetic comprehension of another individual's feelings he awakened in his soul just such an experience as we have through the sense of touch. He felt the physical-psychical process.
On the other hand, that which we call our inner feeling was not so far developed in those days; it was still more closely connected with the outer world. Man had his sorrows and joys which in many respects corresponded more to outer happenings; but he could not retire so deeply into his inner being as he can today. At the present time inner soul experience is to a far greater extent severed from the whole surroundings than formerly was the case. At the present time a man may find himself in a position in which he is surrounded by circumstances which could be better; but because of his inner soul life being severed from his surroundings he may perhaps feel inward pain without any real cause on account of his way of looking at the world.
This would have been impossible at the time of the old Indian epoch of civilization. At that time the inner impressions were a much truer reflection of what went on in the outer environment, for man's feeling was then to a greater extent bound up with the external world. The reason for this was that in those olden times, for example, man, in his whole make up, stood in a very different relation to light. The light surrounding us has not only its external physical aspect, but, like everything physical, is also permeated by soul and spirit. The course of human evolution was such that the soul and spirit of the outer world withdrew more and more from man and gradually the physical part came to be all that was perceptible. Man came to perceive light as a fluid pouring into his organization from all sides, and within this light streaming through him, he felt its soul. Today the soul of the light is stopped by the human skin. The Indian organization was permeated by what lives as soul within the light, and man realized the soul of the light. That light was the bearer of what could be perceived as sympathy and antipathy in other beings, which has now withdrawn with the soul of the light away from men.
This was connected with other experiences. Today when men inhale and exhale they can, at the most, know of the existence of breath through the mechanical working. If it is at all chilled, they see it becoming watery. This is a mechanical way of seeing the breath. Improbable as it may appear to the man of today, it is nevertheless true that by means of occult research we can substantiate the fact that most of the old Indians had quite a different conception of what their breath signified. The soul of light had not as yet withdrawn from what went on around men of that time; so that they perceived the air as it was breathed in and breathed out in different light and dark shades of color. They saw the air pouring in and out again like flames of fire. We may therefore say that even the air itself has become something quite different, by reason of the change that has taken place in man's conceptual life.
Air today is something that is only perceived mechanically by men through the resistance it offers, because they are no longer directly aware of the soul of the light which permeates the air. Man has parted even from this last remnant of instinctive perception. The old Indian would not have called that which is breathed in and out merely ‘air’; he would have called it ‘fire air,’ because he saw it in varying degrees of fiery radiations.
There again we have an example of how even in external experiences the transformation in the constitution of man in the course of evolution is manifest. These are intimate, hidden processes in human evolution, and we can never understand the Vedas if we do not understand how and in what sense the words are used. If we read the words contained in them without knowing that they described what could then be seen, the words would lose all sense, and our interpretation would be completely wrong. We must always take the realities into consideration when we approach the study of ancient documents. That which lives in the human soul alters in character with the course of time.
And now a certain fact will be comprehensible which could not have been so without these statements, statements, which are quite independent of any proofs to be established by physical research. Look into the Eastern writings and see how the elements are there enumerated. They are placed in the following order: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Only in Greek times do we find a different order, which to us today is the obvious one and upon which we base all our understanding, viz. earth, water, air, fire, and the other ethers.
Why is this so? The old Indian consciousness saw, just as man sees today, what is manifested through the solid (that which we call the Earth), through the fluidic, or water, to speak in the spiritual sense. But what we today call air to the old Indians was fire, for they still saw the fire in the air — they described what they saw as fire. We no longer see this fire in the air; we only feel it as heat. Everything has changed since the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. So it was that only when they went a little higher in the series of the elements the Indians came to an element in which at that time there appeared to mankind what we today call air — the air to us being penetrated by light, but not revealing the light. In respect to fire and air, man's vision has been entirely reversed. What we have said about Christ and Lucifer crossing each other — that Christ the cosmic being has entered within the human soul, while Lucifer who at first was within man has become a cosmic being — holds good in all departments of life. That which in the first post-Atlantean epoch was what we call fire is at the present day perceivable as air, and that which we today see as fire was then seen as air. That which underlies human evolution is expressed not only in great things but also in small ones. These things must not be put down to chance; we can see into the profundities of what happens in the course of the evolution of mankind if we look at things from the only real point of view: that of spiritual science.
The Indian consciousness was one which felt the unity of that which lies deep down in the soul with that which is outside it; hence the Indian lived to a greater degree in his environment. The last echoes of what existed in the ancient Indian as instinctive sight are to be found in the rudimentary ‘clairvoyance’ possessed today by those men who have what we call second sight. Suppose when walking along the street anywhere, there enters the mind the thought of a certain man whom at the moment we cannot physically see, and we meet him a little further on. Why was the thought of him in the consciousness before he was seen? It is because his influence has entered into the subconsciousness, whence it ascended into the consciousness as a complete thought. Today man possesses in rudimentary form what was once of great significance in his life. In earlier times there existed a much closer connection between inner and outer feeling.
These are some more detailed instances of my oft-repeated statements that humanity has evolved out of the old dim clairvoyance into the full consciousness of the senses we now possess, and humanity in the future will once again evolve a fully conscious clairvoyance. This will be attained in such a way that man will consciously experience it; he will know that his etheric body goes forth out of him and that he can use the organs of the etheric body just as he can the physical body.
In earlier, more spiritual, ages, when men had more wisdom than has modern abstract materialistic science, they were always conscious that there was an old clairvoyance to the possessors of which the world became transparent. They felt that man had lost this old sight and had entered into his present state. Formerly, men did not express their knowledge in abstract formulae and theories, but in mighty, vivid pictures. The Myths are not ‘thought out’ or invented, but are the expressions of a profound primeval wisdom acquired by spiritual vision. In ancient times there was consciousness of the fact that at a still earlier epoch man had embraced the whole world in his feeling, and this is expressed in the Myths. The ‘clair-sentience’ of the old Indian was the last remnant of an original, dim clairvoyance. This was known; but what was not known was that this clairvoyance — let us summarize it so — withdraws little by little, giving way to the external life which is confined to the world of the senses. The more important Myths express this very fact.
It was known, for instance, that there were mystery places leading the way to the subterrestrial spirits, and that there were others leading up to the cosmic spirits. There was a sharp distinction between them. Men who were not initiated knew nothing of this, just as today men who do not seek along the right paths have no idea that there is such a thing as Mystery Wisdom. A certain amount of information filtered out. With regard to the Mysteries it is true to say that the further we go back into olden times the more significant does their age of splendor appear. Even the Greek Mysteries do not belong to the most brilliant period. The Mysteries themselves had fallen into decadence.
Nevertheless the people knew that that which came from those places where clairvoyant consciousness was still active was connected with the spiritual substance which streams through the world and animates it; they knew that where clairvoyant consciousness still prevailed, something could be experienced about the world which was possible in no other way.
And even in the period of their decadence clairvoyant consciousness was cultivated in these oracle-places, and from them information was conveyed to mankind such as cannot be experienced by ordinary sense-methods and intellectual conceptions bound up with them. Yet it was also known that man is developing, that that which could be attained by the old clairvoyance, useful and practicable in ancient days, was no longer adequate for later times. The Greeks had a deep consciousness of the fact that that which came from the oracles certainly aroused curiosity, that men would fain know something about the hidden connections of the world, but that they had departed from the right method of using such clairvoyant information, that man's relation to the world was different from what it had formerly been and that therefore no good could originate from clinging to the results of the old clairvoyance. This is what the Greeks wanted to express and they did so in magnificent pictures.
One such picture is the Oedipus legend. Through an oracle (that is to say, from a place in which secret connections, hidden from the human gaze, were clairvoyantly perceived) the father was told that if a son were born to him disaster would result, that this son would murder his father and marry his mother. This son was born. The father tried to prevent what had been seen clairvoyantly from coming to pass. The son was sent away, and brought up in another place, but he came to know the oracle — that is to say, something entered his soul which could only be known by means of clairvoyance. The Greek consciousness would say: Something still continues to enter into man from olden times, but the human organization has already progressed so far that it is no longer adapted to this sort of clairvoyance, and cannot make use of it. Oedipus listens to the oracle, but acts in such a way that it is all the more certainly fulfilled. Men can no longer handle the results of clairvoyance; the spiritual world has withdrawn, and the old clairvoyance is no longer of service to them.
But there has always existed a consciousness that things will one day entirely change and that what comes from spiritual worlds will once again mean something to humanity; men have felt that what comes from these spiritual worlds will be covered over by sense life only for a time. Of these facts consciousness has existed; and has been expressed in the Myths by the forces of human evolution which created them. We have seen that the Christ event — when the two forces, the Lucifer principle and the Christ principle, crossed each other — was the decisive one in human evolution. The Christ event was the turning point, when that which comes from out of the cosmos, from the fountain of the spirit, was to be poured as a ferment into human evolution. It had been lost, but it had to be poured in again as a ferment. That which was harmful to mankind, that which made it into something evil, is poured in as a ferment and transformed into good. The evil has to drop into the fructifying spiritual power inherent in human evolution and work with it for the good.
That too has been expressed in the Myths. There is another legend which runs somewhat as follows: A certain man and wife were told by an oracle that they would have a son, who would bring disaster upon his whole people. This son was to murder his father and marry his mother. This son was born to the mother. On account of the warning, this son was sent away too; he was put upon the island of Kariot and was found by the queen of that island. And because she and her husband had no son, she adopted him. But later on a son was born to her. Then the foundling thought he was wrongly treated, and he killed the real son. He was obliged to flee from the island of Kariot, and he went to the court of Pilate in Palestine, where he obtained employment as overseer of Pilate's household. He quarreled with his neighbor, of whom he knew nothing beyond the fact that he was his neighbor. In the course of this quarrel he killed him, and later married the widow. Only then did he learn that it was his real father whom he had killed, and that it was therefore his mother whom he had married.
The story tells us that he saw his entire existence ruined, but did not behave like Oedipus; for he was overcome by remorse and went to the Christ and the Christ received him; this was Judas Iscariot, Judas from Kariot. And the evil which dwelt in Judas became a leaven in the whole of evolution. For the deed of Palestine is connected with the betrayal by Judas; Judas is bound up with the whole event; he belongs to the twelve, which are not thinkable without him. Here we see that the sayings of the oracle were indeed fulfilled, and further that they are embodied in universal evolution in the form of evil which is transformed and lives on as good.
The story (which is in reality wiser than external science) indicates in the most significant way that there is such a transformation in human nature in the course of time, and that the same thing has to be regarded differently at different epochs. In speaking of the fulfillment of an oracular saying we must not relate it in the same way when speaking of the time of Oedipus as when speaking of the time of Christ. The same fact is at the one period the story of Oedipus — at another, in the time of Christ; it becomes the story of Judas. Only when we know the spiritual facts lying at the foundation of the evolution of the world and of humanity do we understand the results of those spiritual facts which are manifest to external historical conceptions. All phenomena of the sense-world, all external sense impressions or manifestations of the human soul, can be comprehended by us when we understand their spiritual basis. That which the investigator of spiritual worlds discovers he gladly hands on as a stimulus to those who are willing to take it from him and who will then examine the external facts which confirm it. If what is discovered in the spiritual world be true, it is confirmed in the physical world. But every true explorer of the spiritual life will say that in communicating his knowledge of the higher world he facilitates and desires the testing of all external facts in the light of his assertions. If what I have said about the reincarnation of Zarathustra, for instance, be compared with external history, it will be found that what has been said stands every test, if sufficiently careful search is made in external history. External life becomes comprehensible only when there is knowledge of the inner, the spiritual.