The Gospel of Mark. Lecture 5 of 10
Rudolf Steiner, September 19, 1912:
Yesterday we endeavored to place before our minds from a certain point of view the world-historical position that existed at the moment in time when the Mystery of Golgotha occurred. We tried to do this by presenting the picture of two significant leaders of mankind, the Buddha and Socrates, both of whom lived several centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha. In doing this we remarked that the Buddha represented something like the significant conclusion of one stream of evolution. There Buddha stands in the fifth or sixth century before the Mystery of Golgotha proclaiming what has since then been recognized as a deeply significant teaching. The revelation of Benares, that in a certain way encompasses and renews all that had been able to flow into human souls during thousands of years, was proclaimed in the only way it could be half a millennium before the Mystery of Golgotha. We can see even more clearly how far the Buddha represented the great conclusion of one cosmic stream when we place before our minds his great predecessor who recedes far back into the twilight of human evolution: Krishna, [ Note 12 ] who in quite a different sense appears to us as the final moment of a revelation thousands of years old. Krishna can be placed several centuries before the Buddha, but that is not the issue here. The main point is that the more we allow the being of Krishna and the being of the Buddha to affect us, the more clearly do we recognize that in Krishna what was later to be proclaimed by the Buddha appears in an even brighter light, whereas with Buddha, as we wish to demonstrate in a moment, in a certain way it comes to an end.
The name “Krishna” embraces something that for many thousands of years has shone into the spiritual development of mankind. If we immerse ourselves in all that is meant by the proclamation of Krishna, we look up into the sublime heights of human spiritual evolution, instilling the feeling within us that nothing can possibly surpass, nothing can enhance, what is contained in, what resounds from, Krishna's revelation. What resounds from this revelation of Krishna is a kind of climax; in saying this we are attributing to the person of Krishna what also was revealed by others before him. For it is indeed true that everything that had been given out gradually for thousands of years before his time by those who were given the task of becoming the bearers of knowledge was renewed, summed up, and brought to a conclusion in the revelations of Krishna to his people. If we take into consideration how Krishna speaks about the divine spiritual worlds and the relation of these worlds to mankind, and about the course of cosmic events, and if we also consider the spirituality to which we ourselves must rise if we wish to penetrate the deeper meaning of the teaching of Krishna, then we may say that only one event in the whole subsequent development of humanity can in even a slight degree be compared with it. We may say of the revelation of Krishna that it is in a certain sense an occult teaching. Why occult? It is occult for the simple reason that few people can achieve the inner capacity to ascend to those spiritual heights where understanding can be gained. There is no need to keep secret what Krishna revealed in an external way, to lock it up in a safe, so that it stays “occult”; it remains occult for no other reason than that too few people rise to the heights to which they must rise if they are to understand it. However widely such revelations as those of Krishna are disseminated among the people and put into their hands, they still remain occult. For they can be brought out of the realm of the occult not by disseminating them among the people, but only when there are souls who can rise high enough to be able to unite with them. It is true that such revelations hover above us at a certain spiritual height, yet they speak to us as if from a high point of spirituality. Anyone who simply picks up the words that are contained in such revelations should by no means believe he understands them, not even if he is a learned man of the twentieth century. It is entirely comprehensible that it is widely asserted today that there is no occult teaching. This is understandable because those who say such things do indeed possess the words, and with them think they have everything. But it is in the very nature of occult teaching that they do not understand what they possess.
Earlier I said that there is just one thing that can be compared with the teaching of Krishna, and indeed what we associate with the name “Krishna” can be compared with what may remind us of three later names which are in a certain sense closely connected with us — though in the case of these three the method, conceptual and philosophical, is quite different. I am referring to everything that in recent years has been linked to the names of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, [ Note 13 ] and the teachings of these men have a slight resemblance to other ”occult teachings” of mankind. For though we can undoubtedly acquire the writings of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, it cannot be denied that in the widest sense of the words they have remained occult teaching. Truly they have remained occult to this day. There are very few people who wish to achieve any kind of relation to what these three men have written. From a certain kind of what I may call philosophical courtesy, there is today in certain circles some talk about Hegel again; and if something is said like what I have just said myself, then the reply is made that after all there really are some people who busy themselves with Hegel. However, if one listens to what these people say and what they contribute to the understanding of Hegel, then we are all the more compelled to the view that for these people Hegel has remained an occult teaching. What shines out toward us from the East from Krishna appears again in Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel in an abstract conceptual way, and it is not easy to notice the similarity; indeed, it requires a special constitution of soul to be able to do so. I should like to speak candidly about this and state clearly what is required.
When a man of today who believes he has enjoyed not an average but a superior education takes up a philosophical work by Fichte or Hegel he believes he is reading something concerned only with the development of advanced concepts. Most people will agree that it is difficult really to warm up to it, if, for example, they turn to Hegel's Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences and read for the first time about being, nonbeing, becoming, existence, and the like. We have probably heard it said that in this work a man has cooked up a collection of highly abstract concepts, beautiful enough, no doubt, but providing nothing capable of kindling warmth in heart or soul. I have known many people who after three or four pages of this particular work have promptly closed the book. But they are not at all prepared to admit that perhaps the guilt lies in themselves that they do not warm up and have avoided the struggles that have to be endured in going from hell to heaven. This they do not willingly admit. Yet it is possible by means of these so-called “abstract concepts” to experience a veritable life-struggle, and to feel not only a living warmth but the whole range of feeling from the most extreme cold to the highest soul-warmth. Then one can come to feel that these things are written not in simply abstract concepts but in the heart's blood.
We may compare what radiates over to us from Krishna with what is regarded as the newest evolutionary phase of the human ascent toward the spiritual heights. Yet there is a significant difference. What we meet with in Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, these most mature thinkers of Christianity, we meet with in a pre-Christian era, in the form it had to take then, in Krishna. For what is Krishna's revelation? It is something that can never again be repeated, whose greatness of its kind and in its own way can never be surpassed. If we have an understanding for such things we may have a conception, an idea, of the strength of that spiritual light that shines over to us, if we let such things affect us as are connected with the culture from which Krishna emerged. If we do this, if we allow words like the following to influence us (to take a few examples from the Bhagavad Gita) where Krishna indicates in words his real being, we arrive at thoughts, feelings, and emotions that will be characterized later. Thus in the tenth canto Krishna speaks as follows:
I am the spirit of creation, its beginning, its center and its end. Among all beings I am always the noblest of all that has come into being; among spiritual beings I am Vishnu, I am the Sun among the stars; among the lights I am the Moon; among the elements I am fire; among the mountains I am the lofty Meru; among the water I am the great cosmic sea, among the rivers I am the Ganges, among the multitude of trees I am Ashvattha; in the true sense of the word I am the ruler of men and of all the beings that live; among the serpents I am the one that is eternal, the very ground of existence itself!
Let us take another example from the same culture, which we find in the Vedas. The Devas were gathered around the throne of the Almighty, and in deep reverence they ask who he himself is. Then the Almighty, that is to say the cosmic god in the old Indian sense, answered:
If there were another than I, I would describe myself through him. I have been from all eternity and through all eternity I shall be. I am the primal cause of everything, of all that is in West, in East, in North, and South; I am the cause of all that is in the heights above and in the depths below. I am all, I am more ancient than anything that is. I am the ruler of rulers, I am the truth itself. I am revelation itself, and the cause of revelation. I am knowledge, I am piety, I am the law. I am almighty!
And when, as the ancient document records, it was asked what was the cause of all things, the answer was given:
The cause of the world, it is fire; it is the Sun and it is also the Moon. It is also this pure Brahman and this water and this highest of all creatures. All moments and all weeks and all months and all centuries and all millennia and all millions of years have proceeded from him, have emerged from his radiant personality which no one can comprehend, neither above nor below nor in the circumference, nor in the center, here where we stand!
Such words sound over to us from very ancient times, and we surrender ourselves to them. If we approach these words without preconceptions, how do we feel in relation to them? Certain things are said in the words; we have seen that Krishna says something about himself. And things are said about the cosmic God and about cosmic origins. From the tone of these thoughts, as they sound forth through these words, things are said that could never have been expressed in a greater or more significant way. And one knows that they never could have been spoken in a greater or more significant manner. That is to say, something was placed into human evolution that must stand just as it is and be accepted as it is since it has come to a conclusion. And wherever people in later times have thought about such things, and may perhaps have believed in accordance with methods employed in these later times that one thing or another could have been expressed in clearer concepts or could have been modified in one way or another, they have nevertheless been unable to say it better. They have never done so. Indeed if anyone wished to say something better about precisely these things, it would be sheer presumption.
Let us first consider the passage of the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna, so to speak, characterizes his own nature. What is he really characterizing? His way of speaking is truly remarkable. He says of his nature that he is the spirit of all that has come into being, that he is among the heavenly spirits Vishnu, among the stars the Sun, among the lights the Moon, among the elements the fire, and so on. If we wish to paraphrase this and compress it into a formula we can say that Krishna points to himself as the essence, the entity, of all things. He is this entity in such a way that it represents always the purest, the most divine kind of nature. Hence, according to this passage, if we penetrate beyond the actual things and seek to find behind them the nature of their true being, we arrive at the being of Krishna. If we take a number of plants of the same species and look for the entity of this species, which is not in itself visible but comes to expression in the single plant forms, and ask what lies behind them as their essence, the answer is: Krishna! But we must not think of this being as identical with any single plant but must think of him as the highest and purest element in the form. Thus we have not only what the essence is, but this essence in its highest, noblest, purest form.
So of what is Krishna actually speaking? Of nothing else but what a man can recognize as his own essence when he sinks into himself; not his being as it appears to him in ordinary life, but something that lies behind man and the human soul as they manifest themselves in life. He speaks of the human essence that is within us because the true human essence is at one with the universe. This is by no means a knowledge that works egotistically within Krishna. It is something in Krishna that wishes to point to the highest in man, something that may perceive itself as identical and at one with what lives as being in all things.
Just as we speak today for our own age, so Krishna spoke to his own age of what he had in mind for his culture. If today we look into our own being we first of all glimpse the ego as you will find it pictured in the book Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment. [ Note 14 ] We distinguish the ordinary ego from the higher, supersensible ego which does not appear in the world of sense. This supersensible ego appears in such a manner that it is not only in us but is at the same time poured out over the being of all things. So when we speak of our higher ego, the higher being dwelling in man, we do not speak of what a man says when he says in his customary manner “I am,” although in our language it has the same sound. In Krishna's mouth it would not have had the same sound. He is speaking of the nature of the human soul as it would have been interpreted in that day, in the same way as we today speak of the ego.
How did it come about that Krishna expresses something that is so similar to what we express when we speak of the highest of which we have knowledge? This was possible because the culture out of which Krishna emerged was preceded for thousands of years by a clairvoyant culture, because human beings were accustomed to rising to clairvoyant vision when they looked into the being of things. And we can understand a language such as resounds here to us from the Bhagavad Gita when we look upon it as the close of the old clairvoyant view of the world, when we recognize that when a man in those ancient times passed into the intermediate state between sleeping and waking that was at that time common to all human beings he was not placed among things in such a way that they were “here” and he was outside them, as is the case in ordinary sense perception. He felt himself poured out over all things, felt himself in all beings and at one with them. It was with the best of things that he felt himself to be at one, and his best was in all things. And if you do not start out from an abstract feeling and an abstract perception in the way customary with men of the present time but rather start out from the old way of feeling and perception as we have just characterized them, then you will understand such words as resound over to us from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. If then you ask how men with the old clairvoyance perceived themselves, you will understand them and realize that in the same way that a man, when his etheric body is freed through spiritual scientific training, feels himself spread and poured out into what lives in everything, so did the man of former times experience this as a natural condition, although not in the same way as would now be the case as a result of spiritual scientific training. Ancient men felt themselves to be inside things, and this condition came about by itself without their volition. And when these revelations were shaped into forms and what had been seen was expressed in beautiful, wonderful words, then something appeared like, for example, these revelations of Krishna. For this reason it could also be said that Krishna spoke to his fellowmen in this way: “I wish to proclaim in words what the best of us have perceived when they were in the supersensible worlds and how the best of us have perceived their relationship to the world. In future times such men as these will no longer be found, and you yourselves cannot be as your ancestors were. I wish to put into words what these ancestors perceived, so that it will endure, because humanity can no longer possess this as a natural condition.”
Thus something which had belonged to mankind for thousands of years was brought in words such as were possible at that time in the form of the revelations of Krishna so that mankind in subsequent ages might possess this revelation of what they were no longer able to perceive for themselves.
Other sayings can also be interpreted in a similar manner. Let us suppose that at a period when Krishna was giving his revelations a pupil had stood before his initiate teacher and asked him, “What lies behind the things which my eyes see? Can you, my initiated teacher, tell me?” The initiated teacher might well have answered, “Behind those things which are now seen by your external, material eyes, lies the spiritual, the supersensible. But in former times men could still see the supersensible while they were in their normal condition. They were able to look into the nearest supersensible world, the etheric world that borders on our material world. Here in this world is to be found the cause of everything that is material, and these men of old were able to see what this cause is. In our time I can do no more than express in words what could in earlier times be seen: ‘It is fire, it is the Sun!’ But not the Sun as it now appears, for what can now be seen by the eye was precisely what for ancient clairvoyants could least of all be seen. The white fiery globe of the Sun was darkness for them, while the effects of the Sun were spread over all space. The radiations of the Sun's aura in many-colored light pictures flowed in and out of each other, coming forth from each other, in such a way that when they merged into things they became immediately creative light. It is the Sun; it is also the Moon (though this too was seen in a different manner), for pure Brahman is altogether in it.”
What is pure Brahman? When we breathe in the air and breathe it out again the materialistic person believes he is only inhaling oxygen. But that is a delusion; with every breath we inhale and exhale spirit. The spirit that lives in the air we breathe penetrates into us and goes out from us again. And when an old clairvoyant saw that, he did not, like the materialist, believe that he was breathing in oxygen. That is a materialistic prejudice. The clairvoyant of ancient times was aware that the etheric element of the spirit, Brahman, from whom all life comes, was being inhaled. In the same way that today we believe that life comes from the oxygen in the air, so did ancient man know that life comes from Brahman; and in that he takes up Brahman, he lives. The purest Brahman is the source of our life.
And of what nature are the conceptual heights to which this very ancient, this ether-like, light-like wisdom aspires? Today people believe they are able to think with great subtlety. But when we see how people jumble up everything in a higgledy-piggledy way as soon as they try to explain something, then we lose all respect for the thinking of today, especially for its logical thinking. At this point I really must engage in a short discussion that may seem abstract. I shall make it as short as possible.
Let us suppose that we encounter an animal that has a mane and is yellow; then we call this animal a lion. Now we begin to ask, “What is a lion?” The answer, “A beast of prey.” Next we ask, “What is a beast of prey?” Answer, “A mammal.” We ask further, “What is a mammal?” Answer, “A living creature.” And so we continue describing one thing through another. Most people believe they are being very lucid when they go on asking ever more questions in the same way as they asked about the lion, the mammal, and so on. And people often ask similar questions about spiritual matters, even about the highest spiritual things, in just the same way as they ask what a lion is, what a beast of prey is, and the rest. And at the end of lectures, when slips of paper are handed in with questions, questions such as these are asked countless numbers of times, for example, “What is God?” “How did the world begin?” “How will the world end?” There are many people who have no wish to know anything at all beyond these questions. They ask them in just the same way as they ask “What is a lion?” and so on.
People think that what is valid for everyday life must also be equally valid for the highest things. They do not take into consideration that it is just the highest things that are of such a nature that we cannot ask such questions about them. If we proceed from one thing to another, from the lion to the beast of prey and so on, we must eventually come to something that cannot be described in this way, when there is no longer any sense in asking, what is this? For in this kind of questioning a predicate is sought for the subject. But when we reach the highest being, this being can be comprehended only through itself. From a logical point of view it is absolutely meaningless to ask the question “What is God?” Everything can be led upward to the highest, but to the highest no predicate can be added, for the answer would have to be: God is ..., and God would then have to be described in terms of something higher. So the question itself would involve the strangest contradiction possible.
The fact that this question is still invariably asked today shows how highly exalted Krishna was when he appeared in a very early epoch and spoke as follows: “The Devas gather around the throne of the Almighty, and in deep devotion ask who He Himself is. Then He answers, ‘If there were anyone else other than I myself, I should describe myself through him.’ ” But this He does not do; He does not describe Himself through another. So we also, as we could say, like the Devas, are led in devotion and humility to this ancient and holy culture, and admire its grandiose logical elevation which it did not achieve through thinking but through the old clairvoyance. In those times people knew at once that when they reached the causes then questioning must cease. The causes must be perceived. At this point we stand in admiration in front of what has come down to us from those very ancient times, as though the spirits who transmitted it to us wished to say to us: “The times have gone when men could see directly into the spiritual worlds, nor will they be able to do so in the future. But we wish to record what we can aspire to, something that at one time was granted to human clairvoyance.”
So we find recorded in the Bhagavad Gita and in the Vedas all those things that were brought together by Krishna as in a kind of conclusion. Such things cannot be surpassed, though they will be perceived again when clairvoyance is renewed. But they will never be perceived through those faculties that have been attained by men in subsequent times. For this reason it is always correct to say that if we remain within the realm of contemporary culture, an external culture whose content is determined by sense perception, we shall never again attain to that ancient sacred revelation which found its conclusion in Krishna unless it is attained through a trained clairvoyance. But through its own evolution through spiritual science the soul can again raise itself and attain it again. What was at one time given to man in a normal way, if I can express myself in this way, is not now given to mankind in ordinary life and cannot be attained by him under natural conditions. It is for this reason that these truths came down to us. When there are thinkers like Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel who reached the highest possible purity in their thinking, then we can meet with these things again, not indeed as life-filled as they were nor with the direct personal impact of Krishna, but in the form of ideas — though never in the way in which they were understood in the time of the old clairvoyance. And, as I have often stated, it was a spiritual necessity that the old clairvoyance should slowly and gradually die out in the post-Atlantean era.
If we look back to the ancient Indian civilization, the first post-Atlantean cultural period, we may say that no records are extant from this epoch, for at that time men still could see into the spiritual world. Only through the Akasha Chronicle can there be rediscovered what was then revealed to mankind. It was a lofty revelation. But then mankind sank down lower and lower. In the old Persian epoch, the second post-Atlantean cultural period, though the revelations still continued they had lost their original purity. They were still less pure in the third cultural period, that of ancient Egypt. If we wish to visualize what were the real conditions of the time we must bear in mind that as far as the first cultural epochs are concerned no records exist, and this is true for all the peoples of that age, whether or not a cultural epoch has been called after them. If we speak of the ancient Indian culture we are referring to a culture from which nothing has come down to us in writing. It is just the same with the primeval Persian culture. Written records exist only from the Egyptian-Babylonian-Chaldean culture, which belongs to the third cultural period. But during the period of the unfolding of the primeval Persian culture within Indian culture there was a second Indian period, running parallel to the old Persian. And yet a third period began in India contemporary with the Egyptian-Babylonian-Chaldean culture, and it was during this period that the first written records began to be kept. These first records date from the latter part of this third culture. Such records are, for example, those contained in the Vedas, which then penetrated into external life. It is these records which also speak of Krishna.
So no one should believe when he speaks of written records that they go back to the first Indian cultural epoch. Everything contained in the documents are records first written down in the third period of ancient India, for the reason that precisely in the third period the old clairvoyance was dying out more and more. These are the records assembled around the person of Krishna. Thus ancient India tells us something that can be externally investigated. If we examine things fundamentally, everything agrees with what can be discovered in the external documents. As the third world age came to an end and men lost what they had originally possessed, Krishna appeared on the scene to preserve what otherwise would have been lost.
When tradition says that Krishna appeared in the third world-age, what age is meant by this? This age is what we call the Egypto-Chaldean cultural epoch. The Indian-Oriental teaching of Krishna accords perfectly with what we have been characterizing. When the old clairvoyance and all its treasures were on the point of being lost, then Krishna appeared and revealed them so that they could be preserved into later times. Thus Krishna is the conclusion of something great and powerful. And everything that has been said here over the years agrees entirely with what is given also in the oriental documents if we read them rightly. It is pure nonsense to talk in this context of “occidental” and “oriental,” because this is only a matter of language, of vocabulary. What is important is that we speak with a full understanding of that which we proclaim. And the more you go into what has been given out over the years, the more you will see that it is in complete agreement with all the documents of the Orient.
So Krishna stands there as a conclusion. Then, a few centuries later, comes the Buddha. In what sense is the Buddha, if we may so express it, the other pole of this conclusion? In what relation does the Buddha stand to Krishna?
Let us place before our souls what we have just spoken of as characteristic of Krishna: great powerful clairvoyant revelations of primordial ages, couched in such words that men of future times will be able to understand and feel and sense in them the ancient clairvoyance of humanity. Krishna's revelation, as he stands before us, is something that men can accept and can say to each other that herein is contained the wisdom of the spiritual world that lies behind the sense world, the world of causes and spiritual facts. This wisdom is expressed in great powerful words in Krishna's revelations. If we immerse ourselves in the Vedas, in all that we can sum up in conclusion as the revelation of Krishna, then we may say that this is the world in which man is at home, the world which lies behind what our eyes can see, our ears hear, our hands grasp, and so on. Yes, the human soul belongs to the world revealed by Krishna.
How could the human soul itself feel in the course of subsequent centuries? It could perceive how these marvelous revelations of an older time spoke about the true, spiritual, celestial home of mankind. It could then look into all that surrounded it. It saw with eyes, heard with ears, grasped things with the sense of touch; it could think with the intellect about things, the intellect that never penetrates into the spiritual element proclaimed in the revelation of Krishna. And the soul could say to itself, “There is an ancient holy teaching from times past which tells of a world, our spiritual home which lies all around us, around that world which is all that we now recognize. We no longer live in that spiritual home; we have been expelled from that world of which Krishna spoke so magnificently.”
Then comes the Buddha. How does he speak of the marvels of the world spoken of by Krishna to human souls which could perceive only what eyes can see and ears hear? He says, “Certainly you live in the world of the senses. The yearning that drives you from incarnation to incarnation has led you into this world. But I am telling you of that path which can lead you out of this world and into that world of which Krishna spoke. I am telling you about the path through which you will be redeemed from the world that is not the world of Krishna.” Buddha's teaching in these later centuries resounds like a kind of nostalgia for the world of Krishna. In this respect the Buddha seems to us like the last successor of Krishna, as Krishna's successor who had to come. And if the Buddha himself had spoken of Krishna, how would he have been able to speak about him? He would have said something like this: “I have come to proclaim to you again the greater one who was my predecessor. Turn your mind backward to the Krishna who was greater than I, and you will see what you can attain if you leave this world which is not your true spiritual home. I will show you the path by which you can redeem yourselves from the world of sense. I lead you back to Krishna.”
The Buddha could have spoken in this way, but he did not use these exact words. Nevertheless he did say them in a somewhat different form when he said, “In the world in which you live there is suffering, there is suffering, there is suffering. Birth is suffering. Age is suffering. Illness is suffering. Death is suffering. To be apart from that which one loves is suffering. To be bound to that which one does not love is suffering. The longing for that which one loves but may not attain is suffering.” And so he gave his Eightfold Path. It was a teaching that did not go beyond that of Krishna because in fact it was the same teaching as the one given by Krishna. “I have come after him who is greater than I, and I will show you the way back to him who is greater than I.” These are the world-historical tones that ring forth to us from the land of the Ganges.
Now let us go a little further toward the West, and place once more before our souls the figure of the Baptist, and remember the words that the Buddha could have spoken: “I have come after Krishna who is greater than I; and I will show you the way back to him, away from the world bereft of the divine of which Krishna spoke. Turn your minds backward!”
Now consider the figure of the Baptist. How did he speak, how did he express his views? How did he express the facts he had received from the spiritual world? He too pointed to another, but he did not say, as the Buddha could have said, “I have come after him.” On the contrary he said, “After me there will come one greater than I.” (Mark 1:7.) This is what the Baptist said. Nor did he say, “Here in the world is suffering, and I wish to lead you to something that is not of this world.” No, he said, “Change your way of thinking. Do not continue to look backward, but look forward. When He comes who is greater than I the time will be fulfilled. Then the divine world will enter into the world of suffering. And what was lost of the revelations of past times will enter in a new way into human souls.
So the successor of Krishna is the Buddha, and John the Baptist is the forerunner of Christ Jesus. Thus everything is reversed. We are faced with the six hundred years that elapsed between these two events, and we have before us the two comets, with their nuclei: the one comet pointing backward with Krishna as nucleus together with the one who leads men backward, the Buddha. Then we have the other comet pointing forward, with Christ as its nucleus together with him who stands before us as the forerunner. If, in the best sense, you recognize the Buddha as the successor of Krishna, and John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ Jesus, then this formula expresses in the simplest way what took place in human evolution around the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. It is in this way that we should look at things, and then we can understand them.
All this has no bearing on any religious confession, nor should it be linked with any particular religion. These are facts of world history. No one who understands them in their innermost depths can present them or will ever present them in a different way. Do such statements impair in any way any revelation ever given to mankind? It is curious that it is sometimes said that we assign in some way a higher place to Christianity than to other religions. Do such words as “higher” or “deeper” have any meaning in this context? Are not such words as “higher” or “lower,” “larger,” or “smaller” the most abstract words we can use? Are we praising Krishna any less than do those who put him higher than Christ? We refrain from using such words as “higher” or “less high,” and wish only to characterize these matters in accordance with the truth. It is not a matter of whether we place Christianity higher or lower, but whether we characterize in the right way what belongs to Krishna. Look up all that has been said about Krishna, and ask yourselves whether anyone else has ever said anything about Krishna “higher” than what has been presented here. Everything else is idle talk. But truth comes to light when there begins to be active that feeling for truth that goes to the essence of things.
Here when we are characterizing the simplest and grandest of the Gospels we have the opportunity of studying the whole position of the Christ as a cosmic and earthly being. It was therefore necessary to go into the greatness of what came to its conclusion centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha, in which the new morning-glow of the future of humanity dawned.
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