Sunday, May 8, 2011
The Temple Legend. Freemasonry and Manichaeism
Notes from a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Berlin on November 11, 1904
Translation of brief notes made by Fraulein Scholl.
Several passages in the German are very obscure.
This lecture was edited in 1996 from a typescript of unknown origin.
Before one can understand Freemasonry one must study the original spiritual streams with which it is connected. An even more important spiritual stream than that of the Rosicrucians was that of Manichaeism. The Faust Problem is connected with it. Manichaeism was founded by Manes about the third century after Christ, and its great opponent was Augustine. Manichaeism came from the region lying in the eastern part of Asia Minor, ruled over by the kings of western Asia.
Manichaeism founded a mighty spiritual stream to which the mediaeval Albigensians, Waldensians, and Cathars also belonged, and later the Order of the Templars and, through an extraordinary concatenation of relationships, Freemasonry. Freemasonry really belongs here, in spite of the fact that it united with the Rosicrucians.
The tradition is as follows: In western Asia there lived a merchant who was exceedingly learned. He was the author of four works: (1) The Mysteries, (2) The Letters, (3) The Gospel, and (4) The Thesaurus. Tradition holds that at his death he left the writings to his widow, who was a Persian. She had once redeemed a slave named Manes and he was called ‘the Son of the Widow.’ His followers called themselves ‘Sons of the Widow.’ Manes designated himself ‘Paraclete’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ promised by Christ to humanity — that is as an incarnation of the Holy Spirit, merely a reincarnation of the same. The teachings he proclaimed were attacked by Augustine when he had become a member of the Catholic Church. He presented the views of Catholicism as opposed to the Manichean teaching, making a personality whom he calls ‘Faustus’ the advocate of Manichaeism. It is usually thought that the different conceptions of evil held by Manichaeism is what distinguishes it from Western Christianity. Manichaeism is supposed to have taught that evil is eternal, like the good, that there is no resurrection and that evil has no end, that it has the same origin as the good and is without beginning and hence without end.
We will examine the matter according to the tradition which is supposed to have originated from Manes himself. In the legend of Manichaesism we have a starting point for this examination. It is the Temple Legend. All these spiritual streams came to expression esoterically through legends. The Legend of Manes is a legend dealing with supersensible truths, a mighty cosmic legend. The Spirits of Darkness wished to storm the Kingdom of Light. They came to its borders for the attack. They were, however, able to achieve nothing. Now they were to be punished by the Kingdom of Light. But in the Kingdom of Light there is only good. Thus the Demons of Darkness could only have been punished through good. Therefore the Spirits of the Kingdom of Light took a portion of their own kingdom and mingled it into the Kingdom of Darkness. Thereby a leaven, so to speak, came into the Kingdom of Darkness and a kind of vortex arose. Death came into it, whereby it consumed itself. It now carried within itself the seed of its own destruction. There then arose from the Kingdom of Light the Archetypal Man, the human race who must mingle with the Kingdom of Darkness and overcome it.
The deep and profound thought here contained is the following: the darkness must be overcome through the Kingdom of Light, through the mingling of the Good with the Evil, in order that the Evil may be redeemed, but not through punishment. The conception underlying this is also that of Theosophy, namely that Evil is only an untimely Good. For example, an excellent piano technique is good, but if the executant wanted to hammer it out on the piano in the concert hall, there it would be evil. That which without any doubt is evil today must have been, in its own time and proper place, good. The guiding forces of the Lemurian epoch would work evil in a later epoch if they were then still mingled in evolution.
In ancient epochs, in Atlantis and Lemuria, all knowledge was in part influenced by that which stands above man. Not until our own epoch have men matured to the stage where they have, as brothers, human beings who have passed through all stages since the middle of the Lemurian Race. In the Fifth Root Race, the guidance of the soul from above withdraws, leaving it to take its own paths. In esotericism, the soul was called the Mother or Isis. The Father was the Instructor or Osiris, who represented the inpouring Divine. He is the Revealer. The soul conceives or receives. The soul is the Mother. During the Fifth Root Race the Father withdraws. Then the soul is widowed, becomes the Widow. The soul, which will later on become completely independent, is designated by Manes as the Divine Fructifier, as the Widow. Then Manes designates himself as the Son, He it is who prepares the soul to become independent. Everything that comes from him is a call to the Divine-Spiritual Light of the soul, a rebellion of the soul against everything which has not come from out of the soul itself. ‘You must strip off everything that is external revelation, everything that external authority has transmitted to you. Then you must become ripe to behold your own soul.’
Augustine, on the contrary, advocated the principle: I would not believe in the truth of the Gospels unless the authority of the Catholic Church compelled me to do so.
But Faust says, “We will only accept the teachings in freedom.” That is presented exoterically in the Faust Saga. Luther is the continuer of the principle of Authority. Faust, on the contrary, supports himself on the inner spiritual light of the soul. Luther throws an inkpot at the Devil's head. Faust enters into a pact with Evil.
From the Kingdom of Light a spark is sent into the Kingdom of Darkness in order that through itself the Darkness may be redeemed, in order that Evil may be overcome through gentleness (Milde). We must explain the confluence of Life and Form out of the cooperation of Good and Evil. Life becomes form through finding opposition. It does not all at once express itself in a form. Only consider how Life hurries from form to form. Life has fashioned the lily, then Life overcomes the Form and it passes over into the seed, out of which a new form will be born. Life is formless; it could live out its own nature in itself. Life is everywhere. The limited form is the hindrance. There would be no forms if Life were not obstructed and arrested in its forces which stream out in every direction. Form grows precisely out of that which at higher stages appears as fetters.
The Life that pulsates in the Catholic Church is the Christian Life. (From the time of St. Augustine until the 15th century.) The Life therein is Christianity. This pulsating Life emerges again and again. (As for example in the Christian Mystics.) The form is nothing else than the Life of the old Roman Empire. What was first republic, and then empire, what lived then in its external appearance as the Roman State, surrendered its Life to the Form. (The old offices of the state were continued further through the Bishops and Presbyters.) The new Life is poured into the old Form. What was formerly Life later becomes Form for a new Life.
The fructification of Manas is today the Life of men. The Form is what has come, like a seed, out of the Lunar Epoch. In that epoch, evolution was the Life of men. Now this is its outer shell, its form. In the confluence of Life and Form, the other is given at the same time. The Good of an earlier age unites with the Good of a newer age. That gives at the same time the possibility of material manifestation, the possibility of manifested existence. That is the doctrine of Manichaeism.
What is the meaning of the utterance of Manes that he is the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the Son of the Widow? It means that he will prepare for that epoch in which the men of the Sixth Root Race will be led by themselves, by the light of their own souls. Manes will create an overlapping stream, a stream which goes further than the stream of the Rosicrucians. The stream of Manes goes over to the Sixth Root Race, which has been in preparation since the founding of Christianity. Christianity will appear in its perfected form in the Sixth Root Race.
Life as such overcomes every Form. It propagates itself through Christianity and lives in all forms and confessions. Whoever seeks the Christian Life will find it. It creates Forms and shatters Forms.
But, in addition, a form for the Christian Life of the Sixth Root Race must be prepared. A number of human beings must be formed into an organization, a Form, in which the Christianity of the Sixth Root Race can find its place. This Form, this external Form of Society must spring from a handful of men whom Manes prepares. This is the community that Manes prepares. Therefore the first endeavor of Manichaeism is to shape external life in its pure form. That is why Manichaeism laid such great stress on purity. The Cathars were a sect which appeared like a meteor. They gave themselves this name, Cathars, because Cathars means ‘the Pure Ones.’ They were human beings who had to keep themselves pure in their mode of life and in their moral relationships. In Manicharism it was less a question of the cultivation of Life but rather of the cultivation of the external Form of Life for the Sixth Root Race.
In this Sixth Root Race, Good and Evil will form a far greater contrast than they do today. What will appear in the Fifth Round for the whole of humanity, i.e., that the physiognomy will be a direct expression for that which karma has created in man, so, in the Sixth Root Race, Evil will appear, especially in the Spiritual. There will be men who are mighty in Love and Goodness. But Evil will also be there as a mood and a disposition (Gesinnung) without any covering, within a large number of human beings. They will extol Evil. Some inkling in regard to the Evil in the Sixth Root Race glimmers in many men of genius. (Nietzsche's Blond Beast is a portent of this Evil in the Sixth Root Race.) The task of the Sixth Root Race is to draw Evil again into itself through gentleness (Milde). In those who are the followers of the Sons of the Widow there will live the inviolable principle that Evil must be overcome through gentleness. That is the task of the Manichean spiritual stream. It appears in forms which many can call to mind, and need not be mentioned. It must express itself in the forming of a community which has to spread above all things: Peace, Love, and Non-resistance to Evil. It must create a Form for the Life that is to come later.
Augustine worked out the Form of the Catholic Church. It was the Form for the present, and had to be the most vigorous opponent of the Form for the future. Augustine building the Form for the present, Faustus striving to prepare in man the sense for the Form of the future — that was the contrast in the third and fourth centuries after Christ. It is still there. It comes to expression later, again modified and toned down, in the two streams of Augustinianism and Manichaeism. Those who lead the conflict on the one side are all conscious that they are waging war. But those who, as Manes, are battling on the other side, are not all of them conscious of this. Only the head of the movement is conscious of it. Thus there are pitted against each other: Jesuitism (Augustinianism) and Freemasonry (Manichaeism).