Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Initiation and Christ

from a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Oslo, June 10, 1912:

We can speak of the Christ, right from the very beginning, as of an “initiate” — that is, one who has direct and immediate connection with the supersensible world. I have done this in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact and continually in lectures. But one cannot in the case of the Christ speak of His “initiation,” one cannot speak in His case of progress through initiations. We can say that He is an initiated one, but we can say nothing at all about how He became initiated. That is a profound distinction.
Compare all that is told of the life of the “initiated” with the account you have in the Gospels. Perhaps you will observe — I have shown it in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact — that the writers of the Gospels needed only to take the ancient ritual in accordance with which initiation was carried out, in order to describe the life of Christ. In relating the ritual they were relating the events of the life of Christ Jesus. But they could never say that He actually underwent what they were describing. Take such a scene — pregnant with deep meaning — as the Transfiguration, or the Prayer on the Mount of Olives. These are events which if you had set out to relate them of some other initiated person you would have had to describe in quite a different way. You could not merely say that he went up to the Mount of Olives and that there drops of sweat fell from him like blood; in the case of another initiated person you would have to tell what he experienced there, how he was changed on the Mount of Olives. Christ was not changed. The meeting with His God on the Mount of Olives was not of such a character that we can feel He has anything to learn there. Similarly, what He passed through at the Transfiguration was not for Himself an enlightenment. For the others, for His companions, it was an enlightenment, but not for Him. For Him it was perfectly natural and comprehensible; He could not learn anything new from it.
What on the other hand should we expect to be told concerning any other initiated person? We must be shown how he advanced step by step on the path of knowledge. In the case of higher initiates we may expect to be told of how they brought a great deal with them from earlier incarnations and perhaps only needed still to pass through the very last stage. We find nothing of all this with the Christ. We have the story of the Temptation, and that is all. What we find in the Christ is that He was permeated through and through in the very highest degree with Divine Self-consciousness. This marks the opening scene of the three-year life of Christ.
And then we have before us this wonderful picture — the picture of highly exalted divine revelations proceeding directly and immediately from One who is Earth Man. In the case of any other initiated person we have to tell how he first attained to this or that stage of initiation and was then able to make this or that revelation. With Christ Jesus on the other hand it all wells up freely in Him from the very beginning, and we are not told that in the course of the three years of His life this or that stage of initiation was passed. If anyone were to treat the description of the Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus as though they were such stages, it would only demonstrate his failure to perceive the fact that the Resurrection took place by virtue of the power that was already there in the living Christ. The Resurrection is not an act of initiation. Christ Jesus was not awakened to life by some other initiate but by the Divine Power that comes from beyond the Earth, the Power that was communicated to Him through the Baptism. The Resurrection was given at the time of the Baptism, it was already there in that moment; whereas the act which in the case of other initiated persons is called “Resurrection” has to be brought about by the deeds and instructions of an elder initiate.
This is the reason why I had to describe the Christ Event as I did in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact — which was written more than ten years ago and appeared shortly after. We have to see it somewhat in the following way. Christ lived His life on Earth. In this life many events and processes took place. How do we describe these events and processes? We describe them best by relating what an initiated one of olden time had to pass through. What the initiated in olden time passed through in his Mystery School, that unfolded itself in the case of Christ as historical fact. Therefore the Evangelists could use the ancient books of initiation, not in order to describe an initiation of Christ but to write a biography of Him. That is the gist of the argument in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact.
It is evidence of the very deepest misunderstanding of the life of Christ if we speak of Him not as one already initiated but as one who had during Earth evolution to undergo initiation. Anyone who wants to explain the life of Christ as an initiation is making a very great mistake in regard to the Spirit of Christianity. He would understand Christianity as though its founder were not already an Initiated One, but had first to be initiated, as though in describing the life of Christ one were describing processes of His initiation.
It is accordingly necessary, in speaking of the life of Christ, to make it perfectly clear that the expressions which are used cannot be applied in the same sense as they are applied to the ancient — or any other — initiation, but that they are used in an absolutely physical earthly sense, that they refer to a history, to an event in history, that lies outside initiation.
The importance of this cannot be over-emphasised. No graver mistake could be made than to overlook what has just been explained and speak of an “initiation of Christ” — not in the sense that it is spoken of in my lectures “Before the Gate of Theosophy” or in those on “The St. John Gospel,” but clothing the life of Christ in the garb of an account of an initiation. In doing so, one would from the very outset be placing oneself in contradiction to every reasonable interpretation of the Gospels. It would be impossible to find the way to the heart and kernel of these, or to understand what occultism has to say concerning Christ Jesus. Let us never forget that when we speak of other founders of religion, we have to speak of them as men who have become initiated and we are justified and right in understanding their life as comprising within it an initiation, but that the life of Christ has to be described differently. Although this life of Christ, as it takes its course on Earth, had indeed to make divine revelations, we are not to conceive of any process of initiation shining as it were into this life of Christ and enlightening it. No, Christ was Himself an initiator. Read in my book Christianity as Mystical Fact the passage concerning the true meaning of the miracle of the Raising of Lazarus. You will find it was an initiation that Christ then performed. He Himself was able to initiate; but we can by no means say that Christ was initiated on Earth in the same sense as we have to say Lazarus was initiated by Christ.
In the place of initiation we have the Baptism by John in Jordan. If, however, the Baptism had been the corresponding act of initiation, it would have been described differently. We would have been told how Christ stood there as one awaiting initiation while a far more exalted initiator performed the act of initiation. The other, however, who stands at His side as the instrument for the act is no higher initiator, but is John the Baptist, who cannot, in accordance with the facts, be placed higher than Christ Jesus Himself.
It has frequently happened that men have made this mistake. But for a right relation to Christianity, for a true understanding of Christianity, such a mistake is always fatal. We must, therefore, beware of speaking as though Christ had passed through various stages — Birth, Childhood, or again, Baptism or Transfiguration or Resurrection — in the sense in which some initiated person may be said to pass through such stages. The moment we apply to the Christ in the same manner the expressions: Birth, Baptism, Transfiguration, Ascension, we show a complete misunderstanding of Christianity.

Source: http://martyrion.blogspot.com/2011/07/death-lucifer-and-christ.html

No comments:

Post a Comment