Wednesday, October 31, 2012




Washed in the Blood of the Lamb are We
Awash in a Sunburst Sea
You—Love—and I—Love—and Love Divine:
We are the Trinity

You—Love—and I—We are One-Two-Three
Twining Eternally
Two—Yes—and One—Yes—and also Three:
One Dual Trinity
Radiant Calvary
Ultimate Mystery

The work of the angels in our astral body

Rudolf Steiner, Zurich, October 9, 1918:
Anthroposophical understanding of the spirit must not be a merely theoretical view of the world, but a leaven, an actual power in life. Only when we manage to investigate this view of the world so fundamentally that it really comes alive in us does it properly fulfill its mission. For by linking our souls with this anthroposophical conception of the spirit we have become custodians, as it were, of very definite and significant processes in the evolution of humanity.
Whatever their view of the world, men are generally convinced that thoughts and ideas have no status in it except as the contents of their own souls. Those who hold such views believe that thoughts and mental pictures are “ideals” which will be embodied in the world only to the extent that man succeeds in ratifying them by his physical deeds.
The anthroposophical attitude posits the conviction that our thoughts and ideas must find other ways of taking effect besides the way through our deeds in the physical world. Recognition of this essential principle implies that the anthroposophist must play his part in watching out for the signs of the times. A very great deal is happening all the time in the evolution of the world; and it is incumbent upon men, particularly the men of our own time, to acquire real understanding of what is going on in the evolutionary process in which they themselves are placed.
In the case of an individual human being, everybody knows that account must be taken of his stage of development, not only of the outer facts and occurrences around him. Think of it quite crudely for a moment. Outer, physical happenings are going on around human beings of five, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, seventy years of age. But nobody in his senses will expect the same reaction to these happenings from the five-year-olds, the ten-year-olds, the twenty-year-olds, the fifty-year-olds, the seventy-year-olds! How human beings may be expected to react to their environment can be determined only by taking account of their stage of development. Everybody will admit this in the case of the individual.
But just as there are definite stages in the evolution of the individual human being, just as the nature of his powers and faculties differs in childhood, middle life, and old age, so too are the powers and faculties possessed by humanity in general constantly changing in the course of evolution. Not to take account of the fact that the character of humanity is different in the 20th century from what it was in the 15th century, let alone before and at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, is to sleep through the process of world-evolution. One of the greatest defects, one of the principal sources of aberration and confusion in our time, is its failure to pay heed to this, as well as the prevalent notion that it is possible to speak of man or of humanity in terms of abstract generalizations, that there is no need to regard humanity as being involved in a continuous process of evolution.
How can a more exact insight into these things be acquired? As you know, mention has often been made of an important phase in the evolution of humanity. The Greco-Latin epoch of civilization, lasting from the 8th century B.C. to approximately the 15th century, was the period of the development of the Intellectual Soul, or Mind-Soul; the development of the Consciousness-Soul (the Spiritual Soul) has been in progress since the 15th century. This is a factor in the evolution of humanity which essentially concerns our own times. The paramount force in human evolution from the 15th century until the beginning of the third millennium is the Spiritual Soul.
But in true spiritual science we must never stop at generalizations and abstractions; everywhere and at all times it must be our endeavor to grasp concrete facts. Abstractions are, at the highest, useful to curiosity in the most ordinary sense of the term. If  spiritual science is to become the very leaven and essential force of life, earnestness must outweigh curiosity and we must not stop at abstractions such as those of which I have just spoken. It is both true and important that because we are living in the epoch of the Spiritual Soul we must take account of its development; but we must not stop there.
To arrive at a clear conception of these things, we must above all consider in greater detail the nature of man himself. In the sense of spiritual science, the members of man's being, beginning from above downwards, are: ego, astral body, etheric body — which latterly I have also called the body of formative forces — and physical body. The ego is the only one of these members in which we live and function as beings of spirit-and-soul. The ego has been implanted in us by the Earth-evolution and the Spirits of Form who direct it. Fundamentally speaking, everything that enters into our consciousness enters it through our ego. And unless the ego, as it unfolds itself, can remain connected — connected through the bodies — with the outer world, we have as little consciousness as we have during sleep. It is the ego that connects us with our environment; the astral body is the legacy of the Moon-evolution; the etheric body of the Sun-evolution; the physical body, in its first rudiments, of the Saturn-evolution.
But if you study the description of these bodies given in the book An Outline of Occult Science you will realize by what a complicated process this fourfold constitution of man came into being. Is it not evident from the facts presented in that book that spirits belonging to all the hierarchies participated in the formation of the three sheaths of man's being? Is it not evident that our threefold sheath composed of physical body, etheric body, and astral body is extremely complicated? It is not simply that these sheaths owe their origin to the cooperation of the hierarchies; the hierarchies are still constantly working within them. And those who believe that man is merely the apparatus of bones, blood, flesh, and so forth, of which natural science, physiology, biology, and anatomy speak, have no understanding of his nature.
If we genuinely study these sheaths of man, we realize that spiritual beings of the higher hierarchies are working together with wisdom and set purpose in everything that takes place, without our being conscious of it, in our bodily sheaths. From the brief outline I have given in Occult Science about the cooperation that took place between particular beings of the hierarchies in order that man should come into existence, you will have realized how intricate the details must be. Nevertheless if man is to be understood, these things too must be studied more and more concretely.
In this domain it is extremely difficult even to formulate a concrete question, because of the tremendous complexity of all such questions. Suppose for a moment that someone were to ask: What is the hierarchy, let us say, of the Seraphim or of the Dynamis (Mights) doing in man's etheric body in the year 1918 of the present cycle of evolution? For we can certainly ask this question, just as we can ask whether it is raining or not raining in Lugano at the present time. Neither question can be answered by mere reflection or theorizing, but only by ascertaining the facts. Just as we should have to find out, by means perhaps of a telegram, whether or not it is raining at Lugano, so it is necessary to investigate the facts themselves in order to get the answer to a question such as: What is the task of the Spirits of Wisdom or of the Thrones in the etheric body of man during the present cycle of evolution? Only, this latter kind of question is indescribably complex and we can never do more than make an approach to the domains where such questions arise. Good care is taken that man shall not soar too far aloft and become arrogant and supercilious in his endeavors to attain knowledge of such things.
Roughly speaking, it is the prospects nearest to us — those that directly concern us — of which we can get a clear view. But such a view we must get, if we are not to remain asleep at our stations in the evolution of humanity.
I will therefore speak about a question that is less vague and indefinite than the question as to what the Dynamis or the Thrones are doing in our etheric body. I will speak of another question that is of immediate concern to men at the present time. It is the question: What are the Angels — the spiritual beings nearest to men — doing in the human astral body in the present cycle of evolution?
The astral body is the member nearest to the ego; obviously, therefore, the answer to this question will vitally concern us. The Angels are the hierarchy immediately above the human  hierarchy itself. So the question is not unduly arrogant and we shall see how it can be answered. What are the Angels doing in man's astral body in this present epoch which began in the 15th century and will last until the beginning of the third millennium?
What is there to be said in the general sense when it comes to answering a question such as this? It can only be said that spiritual investigation, when earnestly pursued, is not a matter of juggling with ideas or words, but works its way into the actual sphere where the spiritual world becomes perceptible ... but this question can, in reality, be fruitfully answered only in the age of the Spiritual Soul itself.
You may think that if this question had been asked in other epochs, an answer would probably have been forthcoming. But neither in the epoch of atavistic clairvoyance nor in that of Greco-Latin civilization could this question have been answered, because the pictures arising in man's soul from atavistic clairvoyance obscured his observation of the deeds of the Angels in his astral body. Nothing could be seen of this, precisely because he had in him the pictures given by the atavistic clairvoyance. And in the Greco-Latin period, thought was not as strong as it is today. Thought has been strengthened as the direct consequence of the advance of natural science. Hence it is in the epoch of the Spiritual Soul that such questions can be the subject of conscious study. The fruitfulness of spiritual  science for life must be shown by the fact that we do not just browse on theories but know how to say things of incisive significance for life.
What are the Angels doing in our astral body? Conviction of what they are doing can come to us only when we have achieved a certain degree of clairvoyance and are able to perceive what is actually going on in our astral body. A certain degree at least of Imaginative knowledge must therefore have been attained if this question is to be answered.
It is then revealed that these beings of the hierarchy of the Angels — particularly through their concerted work, although in a certain sense each single Angel also has his task in connection with every individual human being — these beings form pictures in man's astral body. Under the guidance of the Spirits of Form (Exusiai) the Angels form pictures. Unless we reach the level of Imaginative cognition we do not know that pictures are all the time being formed in our astral body. They arise and pass away, but without them there would be for mankind no evolution into the future in accordance with the intentions of the Spirits of Form. The Spirits of Form are obliged, to begin with, to unfold in pictures what they desire to achieve with us during Earth-evolution and beyond. And then, later on, the pictures become reality in a humanity transformed.
Through the Angels, the Spirits of Form are already now shaping these pictures in our astral body. The Angels form pictures in man's astral body and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant. If we are able to scrutinize these pictures, it becomes evident that they are woven in accordance with quite definite impulses and principles. Forces for the future evolution of mankind are contained in them. If we watch the Angels carrying out this work of theirs — strange as it sounds, one has to express it in this way — it is clear that they have a very definite plan for the future configuration of social life on Earth; their aim is to engender in the astral bodies of men such pictures as will bring about definite conditions in the social life of the future.
People may shy away from the notion that Angels want to call forth in them ideals for the future, but it is so all the same. And indeed in forming these pictures the Angels work on a definite principle, namely, that in the future no human being is to find peace in the enjoyment of happiness if others beside him are unhappy. An impulse of brotherhood in the absolute sense, unification of the human race in brotherhood rightly understood — this is to be the governing principle of the social conditions in physical existence.
That is the one principle in accordance with which the Angels form the pictures in man's astral body.
But there is a second impulse in the work of the Angels. The Angels have certain objectives in view not only in connection with the outer social life but also with man's life of soul. Through the pictures they inculcate into the astral body their aim is that in future time every human being shall see in each and all of his fellow-men a hidden divinity.
Quite clearly, then, according to the intention underlying the work of the Angels, things are to be very different in future. Neither in theory nor in practice shall we look only at man's physical qualities, regarding him as a more highly developed animal, but we must confront every human being with the full realization that in him something is revealing itself from the divine foundations of the world, revealing itself through flesh and blood. To conceive man as a picture revealed from the spiritual world, to conceive this with all the earnestness, all the strength, and all the insight at our command — this is the impulse laid by the Angels into the pictures.
Once this is fulfilled, there will be a very definite consequence. The basis of all free religious feeling that will unfold in humanity in the future will be the acknowledgment, not merely in theory but in actual practice, that every human being is made in the likeness of the Godhead. When that time comes there will be no need for any religious coercion; for then every meeting between one man and another will of itself be in the nature of a religious rite, a sacrament, and nobody will need a special Church with institutions on the physical plane to sustain the religious life. If the Church understands itself truly, its one aim must be to render itself unnecessary on the physical plane, as the whole of life becomes the expression of the supersensible.
The bestowal on man of complete freedom in the religious life — this underlies the impulses, at least, of the work of the Angels.
And there is a third objective: To make it possible for men to reach the Spirit through thinking, to cross the abyss and through thinking to experience the reality of the Spirit.
Spiritual science for the spirit, freedom of religious life for the soul, brotherhood for the bodily life — this resounds like cosmic music through the work wrought by the Angels in the astral bodies of men.
All that is necessary is to raise our consciousness to a different level and we shall feel ourselves transported to this wonderful site of the work done by the Angels in the human astral body.
We are living in the age of the Spiritual Soul, and in this age the Angels work in the astral bodies of men as I have described. Man must gradually come to understand this in his wideawake consciousness. It is part of the process of human evolution itself. How can such a statement be made? Where are we to look for this work of the Angels?
It is still to be discovered in man while he is sleeping, in the conditions prevailing between the moments of falling asleep and waking — also in somnolent waking states. I have often said that although men are awake, they actually sleep through the most important concerns in life. And I can give you the not very heartening assurance that anyone who goes through life with alert consciousness today finds numbers and numbers of human beings who are really asleep. They let events happen without taking the slightest interest in them, without troubling about them or associating themselves with these happenings in any way. Great world-events often pass men by just as something that is taking place in the city passes a sleeper by ... although people are apparently awake. At such times, while men, in spite of being awake, are sleeping through some momentous event, it can be seen how in their astral bodies — quite independently of what they want or do not want to know — this important work of the Angels continues.
Such things proceed in a way which must necessarily seem highly enigmatic and paradoxical. A man may be considered entirely unworthy of having any connections at all with the spiritual world. But the truth about such a man may well be that in this incarnation he is just a terrible dormouse who sleeps through everything that goes on around him. Yet one of the choir of the Angels is working in his astral body at the future of mankind. Observation of his astral body shows that it is being made use of, in spite of these conditions.
What really matters, however, is that men shall become conscious of these things. The Spiritual Soul must rise to the level where it is able to recognize what can be discovered only in this way.
After all this, you will understand me when I point out that this epoch of the Spiritual Soul is heading toward the definite event, and that — just because it is the Spiritual Soul that is involved — it will depend upon men themselves how this event takes effect in the evolution of humanity. It may come a century earlier or a century later, but it is bound to form part of the evolutionary process. It can be characterized by saying: Purely through the Spiritual Soul, purely through their conscious thinking, men must reach the point of actually perceiving what the Angels are doing to prepare the future of humanity. The teachings of spiritual science in this domain must become practical wisdom in the life of humanity — practical, because men can be convinced that it belongs to their own wisdom to recognize the aims of the Angels, as I have described them.
But the progress of the human race toward freedom has already gone so far that it depends upon man himself whether he will sleep through this event or face it with fully wide-awake consciousness. What would this entail? To face this event with wide-awake consciousness would entail the study of spiritual science, which is possible today. Indeed nothing else is really necessary. The practice of meditations of various kinds and attention to the guidance given in the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment will be an additional help. But the essential step has already been taken when spiritual science is studied and really consciously understood. Spiritual science can be studied today without developing clairvoyant faculties. Everyone can do so, who does not bar his own way with his prejudices. And if people study spiritual science more and more thoroughly, if they assimilate its concepts and ideas, their consciousness will become so alert that instead of sleeping through certain events, they will be fully aware of them.
These events can be characterized in greater detail, for to know what the Angel is doing is only the preparatory stage. The essential point is that at a definite time — depending, as I have said, upon the attitude men themselves adopt it will be earlier or later or at worst not at all — a threefold truth will be revealed to mankind by the Angels.
Firstly, it will be shown how his own genuine interest will enable man to understand the deeper side of human nature. A time will come — and it must not pass unnoticed — when out of the spiritual world men will receive through their Angel an impulse that will kindle a far deeper interest in every individual human being than we are inclined to have today. This enhanced interest in our fellow-men will not unfold in the subjective, leisurely way that people would prefer, but by a sudden impetus a certain secret will be inspired into man from the spiritual side, namely, what the other man really is. By this I mean something quite concrete — not any kind of theoretical consideration. Men will learn something whereby their interest in every individual can be kindled. That is the one point — and that is what will particularly affect the social life.
Secondly: From the spiritual world the Angel will reveal to man that, in addition to everything else, the Christ Impulse postulates complete freedom in matters of religions life, that the only true Christianity is the Christianity which makes possible absolute freedom in the religious life.
And thirdly: Unquestionable insight into the spiritual nature of the world.
As I have said, this event ought to take place in such a way that the Spiritual Soul in man participates in it. This is impending in the evolution of humanity, for the Angel is working to this end through the pictures woven in man's astral body.
But let it be emphasized that this impending event confronts the will of man. Many things that should lead to conscious awareness of this event may be and indeed are being left undone.
But as you know, there are other beings working in world-evolution, beings who are interested in deflecting man from his proper course: these are the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic beings. What I have just said belongs to the divinely willed evolution of mankind. If man were to follow the dictates of his own proper nature, he could not very well fail to perceive what the Angel is unfolding in his astral body; but the aim of the Luciferic beings is to tear men away from insight into the work of the Angels. And they set about doing this by curbing man's free will. They try to cloud his understanding of the exercise of his free will. True, they desire to make him good — for from the aspect of which I am now speaking, Lucifer desires that there shall be goodness, spirituality, in man — but automatic goodness, automatic spirituality — without free will. Lucifer desires that man shall be led automatically, in accordance with perfectly good principles, to clairvoyance — but he wants to deprive him of his free will, to remove from him the possibility of evil-doing. Lucifer wants to make man into a being who, it is true, acts out of the spirit, but acts as a reflection, as an automaton, without free will.
This is connected with certain specific secrets of evolution. As you know, the Luciferic beings have remained stationary at other stages of evolution and they introduce an element that is foreign to the normal evolutionary process. They are deeply interested in so seizing hold of man that he does not unfold free will, because they themselves have not acquired free will. Free will can be acquired only on the Earth but the Luciferic beings want to have nothing to do with the Earth; they want only Saturn-, Sun-, Moon-evolution, and to remain at those stages. In a sense they hate the free will of man. Their manner of acting is highly spiritual, but it is automatic — that is a point of great significance — and they want to lift man to their own spiritual heights, to make him an automaton — a spiritual, but an automatically spiritual, being. Thereby on the one side the danger would arise that prematurely, before his Spiritual Soul is in full function, man would become a being whose actions are those of a spiritual puppet and he would sleep through the impending revelation.
But the Ahrimanic beings too are working to obscure this revelation. They are not at pains to make man particularly spiritual, but rather to kill out in him the consciousness of his own spirituality. They endeavor to instill into him the conviction that he is nothing but a completely developed animal. Ahriman is in truth the teacher par excellence of materialistic Darwinism. He is also the great teacher of all those technical and practical pursuits in Earth-evolution where there is refusal to acknowledge the validity of anything except the external life of the senses, where the only desire is for a widespread technology, so that with somewhat greater refinement, men shall satisfy their hunger, thirst, and other needs in the same way as the animal. To kill, to darken, in man the consciousness that he is an image of the Godhead — this is what the Ahrimanic beings are endeavoring by subtle scientific means of every kind to achieve in our age of the Spiritual Soul.
In earlier epochs it would have been of no avail to the Ahrimanic beings to obscure the truth from men by theories in this way. And why? Even during the Greco-Latin age, but still more so in the earlier epoch when man still had the pictures of atavistic clairvoyance, how he thought was entirely a matter of indifference: he had his pictures and these pictures were windows through which he looked into the spiritual world. Whatever Ahriman might have insinuated to man concerning his relation to the animals would have had no effect at all upon his way of life. Thought has for the first time become really powerful — one could also say, powerful in its ineptitude — in our fifth post-Atlantean epoch, since the 15th century. Only since then has thinking been competent to bring the Spiritual Soul into the realm of the spirit, but at the same time also to hinder it from entering the spiritual world. Only now are we experiencing the age when a theory or a science, by the path of consciousness, robs man of his divinity, of his knowledge of the Divine. Only in the age of the Spiritual or Consciousness Soul is this possible. Hence the Ahrimanic spirits endeavor to spread teachings which obscure man's divine origin.
From this mention of the streams which run counter to the normal, god-willed evolution of man it can be gathered how he must conduct his life, lest the impending revelation finds him in a state of sleep. A great danger may arise, and men must be alert to it. If they are not, instead of the event that should play a momentous part in shaping the future evolution of the Earth, a great danger to this evolution will supervene.
Now, certain spiritual beings achieve their development through men who evolve together with them. The Angels who unfold their pictures in the human astral body are not doing this as a game but in order to achieve something. But because this aim must be achieved in earthly humanity itself, the whole matter would become a game if, having reached the stage of the Spiritual Soul, men deliberately ignore it. It would become a game! The Angels would be playing a game in the evolution of man's astral body! Only when this activity is realized in humanity itself is it not a game but serious business.
From this you can realize that the work of the Angels is, and under all circumstances must remain, serious. Just imagine what conditions would be behind the scenes of existence if through their somnolence men were able to turn the work of the Angels into a game!
And what if this should happen after all? What if humanity on Earth should persist in sleeping through the momentous spiritual revelation of the future? If this were to happen in respect of the freedom of the religious life — for example, if men were to sleep through the repetition of the Mystery of Golgotha on the etheric plane, the reappearance of the etheric Christ, or other matters as well — then the Angels would have to try different means of achieving what the pictures they weave in the astral body of man are intended to achieve. If men do not allow this to be achieved in the astral body while they are awake, the Angels would, in this case, endeavor to fulfill their aims through their sleeping bodies. Therefore what the Angels could not achieve because in their waking life men slept through it would be achieved with the help of the physical and etheric bodies of men during actual sleep. It is there that the Angels would seek forces required for the fulfillment of what could not be achieved through men in their wide-awake consciousness when the souls were within the etheric and physical bodies in the waking state. It would be achieved by means of the etheric and physical bodies in the sleeping state, when human beings who ought to be awake to what is going on were outside these bodies with their ego and astral body.
Here lies the great danger for the age of the Spiritual Soul. This is what might still happen if, before the beginning of the third millennium, men were to refuse to turn to the spiritual life. The third millennium begins with the year 2000, so it is only a short time ahead of us. It might still happen that the aim of the Angels in their work would have to be achieved by means of the sleeping bodies of men — instead of through men wide-awake. The Angels might still be compelled to withdraw their whole work from the astral body and to submerge it in the etheric body in order to bring it to fulfillment. But then, in his real being, man would have no part in it. It would have to be performed in the etheric body while man himself was not there, just because if he were there in the waking state he would obstruct it.
I have now given you a general picture of these things. But what would be the outcome if the Angels were obliged to perform this work without man himself participating, to carry it out in his etheric and physical bodies during sleep?
The outcome in the evolution of humanity would unquestionably be threefold. Firstly, something would be engendered in the sleeping human bodies — while the ego and astral body were not within them — and man would meet with it on waking in the morning ... but then it would become instinct instead of conscious spiritual activity and therefore baleful. It is so indeed: certain instinctive knowledge that will arise in human nature, instinctive knowledge connected with the mystery of birth and conception, with sexual life as a whole, threatens to become baleful if the danger of which I have spoken takes effect. Certain Angels would then themselves undergo a change — a change of which I cannot speak, because this is a subject belonging to the higher secrets of initiation-science which may not yet be disclosed. But this much can certainly be said: The effect in the evolution of humanity would be that certain instincts connected with the sexual life would arise in a pernicious form instead of wholesomely, in clear waking consciousness. These instincts would not be mere aberrations but would pass over into and configure the social life, would above all prevent men — through what would then enter their blood as the effect of the sexual life — from unfolding brotherhood in any form whatever on the Earth, and would rather induce them to rebel against it. This would be a matter of instinct.
So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.
And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. Light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ... so grand and wise is the interpretation of nature in terms of causality! Natural science will be totally blind to the event of which I have told you, for if men become half devils through their sexual instincts, science will as a matter of course regard this as a natural necessity. Scientifically, then, the matter is simply not capable of explanation, for whatever happens, everything can be explained by science. The fact is that such things can be understood only by spiritual, supersensible cognition. That is the one aspect.
The second aspect is that from this work which involves changes affecting the Angels themselves, still another result accrues for humanity: instinctive knowledge of certain medicaments — but knowledge of a baleful kind!
Everything connected with medicine will make a great advance in the materialistic sense. Men will acquire instinctive insights into the medicinal properties of certain substances and certain treatments — and thereby do terrible harm. But the harm will be called useful. A sick man will be called healthy, for it will be perceived that the particular treatment applied leads to something pleasing. People will actually like things that make the human being — in a certain direction — unhealthy.
Knowledge of the medicinal effects of certain processes and treatments will be enhanced, but this will lead into very baleful channels. For man will come to know through certain instincts what kind of illnesses can be induced by particular substances and treatments. And it will then be possible for him either to bring about or not to bring about illnesses, entirely as suits his egotistical purposes.
The third result will be this. Man will get to know of definite forces which, simply by means of quite easy manipulations — by bringing into accord certain vibrations — will enable him to unleash tremendous mechanical forces in the world. Instinctively he will come to realize in this way the possibility of exercising a certain spiritual guidance and control of the mechanistic principle — and the whole of technical science will sail into desolate waters. But human egoism will find these desolate waters of tremendous use and benefit.
This, my friends, is a fragment of concrete knowledge of the evolution of existence, a fragment of a conception of life which can be truly assessed only by those who realize that an unspiritual view of life can never grow clear about these things. If a form of medicine injurious to humanity were ever to take root, if a terrible aberration of the sexual instincts were to arise, if there were baleful doings in the sphere of the purely mechanistic forces of the world, in the application of the forces of nature by means of spiritual powers, an unspiritual conception of life would see through none of these things, would not perceive how they deviate from the true path. The sleeper, as long as sleep lasts, does not see the approach of a thief who is about to rob him; he is unaware of it and at most he finds out later on, when he wakes, what has been done to him. But it would be a bad awakening for humanity! Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes and substances and would experience such satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses that he would regard them as evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness! In a certain respect, ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness. Nothing of this would be perceived because it would all be regarded as natural necessity. But it would denote an aberration from the path which, in the nature of humanity itself, is prescribed for man's essential being.
If a feeling has been acquired of how spiritual science penetrates into and affects our whole attitude of mind, I believe that there can also arise the earnestness required for receiving such truths as have been presented today. From this earnestness there can stem what ought indeed to stem from all spiritual science: the acknowledgment of definite obligations, of definite responsibilities in life. Whatever our position may be, whatever we have to do in the world, the essential thing is to foster the thought that our conduct must be permeated and illumined by our anthroposophical consciousness. Then we contribute something toward the true progress of humanity.
If a man ever believes that true  spiritual science, earnestly and worthily pursued, may divert him from practical and necessary activity in life, he is entirely misguided. True spiritual science begets vigilance — an awakening in regard to matters such as those I have presented today. It may be asked: Is waking life, then, really harmful to sleep? If we choose to draw this parallel — namely that insight into the spiritual world is itself a greater awakening from ordinary waking life, just as the ordinary waking is an awakening from sleep — then in order to follow the comparison, we can indeed ask the question: Can waking life ever be harmful to sleep?
Yes — if waking life is not what it ought to be! If a man spends his waking life as it ought to be spent, his sleep will also be healthy, and if in his waking life he is drowsy or lazy, happy-go-lucky or indolent, then his sleep too will be unhealthy. And it is the same in regard to the waking life we acquire as the result of our study of spiritual science. If spiritual science enables us to establish a true relation to the spiritual world, our interest in the familiar facts of physical life will be guided into the right channels — just as a healthy waking life brings order and direction into sleep.
Anyone who looks at life, particularly in our own age, must himself be asleep if he does not notice a number of things. How men have preened themselves on their conduct of life, particularly during the last few decades! Things have finally come to the point where the leading positions everywhere are held by those who are most contemptuous of the ideal, of the spiritual. People managed to go on declaiming about their conduct of this life as long as mankind had not actually been dragged into the abyss. Now a few — mostly out of instinct — are actually beginning to croak that a new age must come, with all kinds of new ideals. But it is all so much croaking. And if things have to come about instinctively, without conscious penetration into spiritual science on the part of men, they would lead to the decline of what ought to be experienced in the waking state rather than to any wholesome transition in evolution.
One who today makes impassioned speeches to men in the words they have so long been accustomed to hear can still usually count on some applause. But men will have to get used to listening to different words, different ways of putting things, if a social cosmos is again to arise out of chaos.
If, in some epoch, the men who ought to be vigilant fail in this respect and do not discern what really ought to happen, then nothing real does happen. Instead, the ghost of the preceding epoch walks — as the ghosts of the past are walking in many religious communities today, and as the ghost of ancient Rome still haunts the sphere of jurisprudence. In the age of the Spiritual Soul, spiritual science must make men free in just this way, must lead them to perception of a spiritual fact: What the Angel is doing in our astral body. To speak abstractly about Angels and so on can at most be the beginning; progress requires that we speak concretely — which means that in reference to our own epoch we find the answer to the question nearest to us. This question concerns us most nearly, for the simple reason that in our astral body the Angel is weaving pictures that are to determine our future form, and this determination is to be brought about through the Spiritual Soul.
If we had not the Spiritual Soul, there would be no need to exert ourselves, for then other spirits, other  hierarchies, would certainly step in to bring to fulfillment what the Angel is weaving. But because our task is to unfold the Spiritual Soul, no other spirits step in to carry the work of the Angels into effect.
Other Angels, of course, were at work in the Egyptian epoch. But other spirits soon made their entry and the work of the Angel was obscured from men through their own atavistic clairvoyance. Their clairvoyance wove a veil, a dark veil, over the pictures. But now man must unveil them. Therefore it behooves him not to sleep through what is being inculcated into his conscious life in the epoch that will end before the third millennium does. Let us draw from anthroposophical spiritual science not only teachings, but resolutions as well! They will give us strength to be vigilant and alert. We can season ourselves to be watchful human beings by paying heed to many things. We can make a beginning in this direction now; we can discover that in reality no single day passes without a miracle happening in our life. This last sentence can be turned, and we can also say: If on some day we find no miracle in our life, then we have merely overlooked it. Try one evening to survey your life and you will find in it some event of slight or great or middling importance of which you will be able to say: It came into my life and took effect in a truly remarkable way. You can realize this provided only that you think comprehensively enough, provided only that you have in your mind's eye a sufficiently comprehensive picture of the circumstances and connections of life. But in the ordinary course this does not happen, because as a rule we do not ask ourselves: What was it that was prevented from happening by this or that occurrence?
We do not usually trouble about the things that have been prevented but which, if they had happened, would have fundamentally changed our life. Behind these things which in some way or other have been kept out of our lives there is very, very much that educates us into becoming vigilant human beings. What manner of things might have happened to me today? If we ask ourselves this question every evening and then think of particular occurrences which could have had this or that result, observations will couple themselves with such questions and introduce the element of vigilance into the exercise of self-discipline. This is something that can be a beginning, and of itself leads on and on, until finally we do not explore only into what it meant in our life when, for example, we wanted to go out, say, at half-past ten one morning and at the last moment somebody turned up and stopped us ... we are annoyed at being stopped, but we do not enquire what might have happened if we had actually gone out as we had planned. What is it that has been changed?
I have already spoken here in greater detail about such matters. From observation of the negative in our life — which can, however, bear witness to the wisdom guiding it — to observation of the Angel weaving and working in our astral body there is a direct path, a direct and unerring path that can be trodden.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The message of Sandy

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

--Revelation 3:14-22

The Nature of the Virgin Sophia and of the Holy Spirit. Focus lecture for tomorrow's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

The Gospel of John. Lecture 12 of 12.
Rudolf Steiner, Hamburg, May 31, 1908:


Yesterday we reached the point of discussing the change which takes place in the human astral body through meditation, concentration, and other practices which are given in the various methods of initiation. We have seen that the astral body is thereby affected in such a way that it develops within itself the organs which it needs for perceiving in the higher worlds, and we have said that up to this point the principle of initiation is everywhere really the same — although the forms of its practices conform wholly to the respective cultural epochs. The principal difference appears with the occurrence of the next thing which must follow. In order that the pupil may be able actually to perceive in the higher worlds, it is necessary that the organs which have been formed out of the astral part impress or stamp themselves upon the ether body, be impressed into the etheric element.
The re-fashioning of the astral body indirectly through meditation and concentration is called by an ancient name: “katharsis,” or purification. Katharsis or purification has as its purpose the discarding from the astral body all that hinders it from becoming harmoniously and regularly organized, thus enabling it to acquire higher organs. It is endowed with the germ of these higher organs; it is only necessary to bring forth the forces which are present in it. We have said that the most varied methods can be employed for bringing about this katharsis. A person can go very far in this matter of katharsis if, for example, he has gone through and inwardly experienced all that is in my book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, and feels that this book was for him a stimulation and that now he has reached the point where he can himself actually reproduce the thoughts just as they are there presented. If a person holds the same relationship to this book that a virtuoso, in playing a selection on the piano, holds to the composer of the piece, that is, he reproduces the whole thing within himself — naturally according to his ability to do so — then through the strictly built up sequence of thought of this book — for it is written in this manner — katharsis will be developed to a high degree. For the important point in such things as this book is that the thoughts are all placed in such a way that they become active. In many other books of the present, just by changing the system a little, what has been said earlier in the book can just as well be said later. In the The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity this is not possible. Page 150 can as little be placed fifty pages earlier in the subject matter as the hind legs of a dog can be exchanged with the forelegs, for the book is a logically arranged organism and the working out of the thoughts in it has an effect similar to an inner schooling. Hence there are various methods of bringing about katharsis. If a person has not been successful in doing this after having gone through this book, he should not think that what has been said is untrue, but rather that he has not studied it properly or with sufficient energy or thoroughness.
Something else must now be considered and that is that when this katharsis has taken place, when the astral organs have been formed in the astral body, it must all be imprinted upon the ether body. In the pre-Christian initiation, it was done in the following manner. After the pupil had undergone the suitable preparatory training, which often lasted for years, he was told: The time has now come when the astral body has developed far enough to have astral organs of perception; now these can become aware of their counterpart in the ether body. Then the pupil was subjected to a procedure which today — at least for our cultural epoch — is not only unnecessary, but is not in all seriousness feasible. He was put into a lethargic condition for three and a half days, and was treated during this time in such a way that not only the astral body left the physical and ether bodies — a thing that occurs every night in sleep — but to a certain degree the ether body also was lifted out; but care was taken that the physical body remained intact and that the pupil did not die in the meantime. The ether body was then liberated from the forces of the physical body which act upon it. It had become, as it were, elastic and plastic, and when the sensitory organs that had been formed in the astral body sank down into it, the ether body received an imprint from the whole astral body. When the pupil was brought again into a normal condition by the hierophant, when the astral body and ego were again united with the physical and ether bodies — a procedure which the hierophant well understood — then not only did he experience katharsis, but also what is called “Illumination” or “Photismos.” The pupil could then not only perceive in the world around him all those things that were physically perceptible, but he could employ the spiritual organs of perception, which means he could see and perceive the spiritual. Initiation consisted essentially of these two processes: Purification or Purging, and Illumination.
Then the course of human evolution entered upon a phase in which it gradually became impossible to draw the ether body out of the physical without a very great disturbance in all its functions, because the whole tendency of the post-Atlantean evolution was to cause the ether body to be attached closer and closer to the physical body. It was consequently necessary to carry out other methods of initiation which proceed in such a manner that without the separating of the physical and ether bodies, the astral body, having become sufficiently developed through katharsis and able of itself to return again to the physical and etheric bodies, was able to imprint its organs on the ether body in spite of the hindrance of the physical body. What had to happen was that stronger forces had to become active in meditation and concentration in order that there might be the strong impulse in the astral body for overcoming the power of resistance of the physical body. In the first place there was the actual specifically Christian initiation in which it was necessary for the pupil to undergo the procedure which was described yesterday as the seven steps. When he had undergone these feelings and experiences, his astral body had been so intensely affected it formed its organs of perception plastically — perhaps only after years, but still sooner or later — and then impressed them upon the ether body, thus making of the pupil one of the Illuminati. This kind of initiation which is specifically Christian could only be described fully if I were able to hold lectures about its particular aspects every day for about a fortnight instead of only for a few days. But that is not the important thing. Yesterday you were given certain details of the Christian initiation. We only wish to become acquainted with its principle.
By continually meditating upon passages of the Gospel of St. John, the Christian pupil is actually in a condition to reach initiation without the three and a half day continued lethargic sleep. If each day he allows the first verses of the Gospel of St. John, from “In the beginning was the Word” to the passage “full of grace and truth,” to work upon him, they become an exceedingly significant meditation. They have this force within them, for this Gospel is not there simply to be read and understood in its entirety with the intellect, but it must be inwardly fully experienced and felt. It is a force which comes to the help of initiation and works for it. Then will the “Washing of the Feet,” the “Scourging,” and other inner processes be experienced as astral visions, wholly corresponding to the description in the Gospel itself, beginning with the 13th Chapter.
The Rosicrucian initiation, although resting upon a Christian foundation, works more with other symbolic ideas which produce katharsis, chiefly with imaginative pictures. That is another modification which had to be used, because mankind had progressed a step further in its evolution, and the methods of initiation must conform to what has gradually been evolved.
We must understand that when a person has attained this initiation, he is fundamentally quite different from the person he was before it. While formerly he was only associated with the things of the physical world, he now acquires the possibility likewise of association with the events and beings of the spiritual world. This pre-supposes that the human being acquires knowledge in a much more real sense than in that abstract, dry, prosaic sense in which we usually speak of knowledge. For a person who acquires spiritual knowledge finds the process to be something quite different. It is a complete realization of that beautiful expression “Know thyself.” But the most dangerous thing in the realm of knowledge is to grasp these words erroneously, and today this occurs only too frequently. Many people construe these words to mean that they should no longer look about the physical world, but should gaze into their own inner being and seek there for everything spiritual. This is a very mistaken understanding of the saying, for that is not at all what it means. We must clearly understand that true higher knowledge is also an evolution from one standpoint, which the human being has attained, to another which he had not reached previously. If a person practices self-knowledge only by brooding upon himself, he sees only what he already possesses. He thereby acquires nothing new, but only knowledge of his own lower self in the present meaning of the word. This inner nature is only one part that is necessary for knowledge. The other part that is necessary must be added. Without the two parts, there is no real knowledge. By means of his inner nature, he can develop organs through which he can gain knowledge. But just as the eye, as an external sense organ, would not perceive the sun by gazing into itself, but only by looking outward at the sun, so must the inner perceptive organs gaze outwardly — in other words, gaze into an external spiritual — in order actually to perceive. The concept “Knowledge” had a much deeper, a more real meaning in those ages when spiritual things were better understood than at present. Read in the Bible the words “Abraham knew his wife” or this or that Patriarch “knew his wife.” One does not need to seek very far in order to understand that by this expression fructification is meant. When one considers the words “Know thyself” in the Greek, they do not mean that you stare into your own inner being, but that you fructify yourself with what streams into you from the spiritual world. “Know thyself” means: Fructify thyself with the content of the spiritual world!
Two things are needed for this: namely, that the human being prepare himself through katharsis and illumination, and then that he open his inner being freely to the spiritual world. In this connection we may liken his inner nature to the female aspect, the outer spiritual to the male. The inner being must be made susceptible of receiving the higher self. When this has happened, then the higher human self streams into him from the spiritual world. One may ask: Where is this higher human self? Is it within the personal man? No, it is not there. On Saturn, Sun, and Moon, the higher self was diffused over the entire cosmos. At that time the Cosmic Ego was spread out over all humankind, but now men have to permit it to work upon them. They must permit this Ego to work upon their previously prepared inner natures. This means that the human inner nature — in other words, the astral body — has to be cleansed, purified, and ennobled and subjected to katharsis; then a person may expect that the external spirit will stream into him for his illumination. That will occur when the human being has been so well prepared that he has subjected his astral body to katharsis, thereby developing his inner organs of perception. The astral body, in any case, has progressed so far that now when it dips down into the etheric and physical bodies, illumination or photismos results. What actually occurs is that the astral body imprints its organs upon the ether body, making it possible for the human being to perceive a spiritual world about him; making it possible for his inner being, the astral body, to receive what the etheric body is able to offer to it, what the ether body draws out of the entire cosmos, out of the Cosmic Ego.
This cleansed, purified astral body, which bears within it at the moment of illumination none of the impure impressions of the physical world but only the organs of perception of the spiritual world, is called in esoteric Christianity the “pure, chaste, wise Virgin Sophia.” By means of all that he receives during katharsis, the pupil cleanses and purifies his astral body so that it is transformed into the Virgin Sophia. And when the Virgin Sophia encounters the Cosmic Ego, the Universal Ego which causes illumination, the pupil is surrounded by light, spiritual light. This second power that approaches the Virgin Sophia is called in esoteric Christianity — is also so called today — the “Holy Spirit.” Therefore according to esoteric Christianity it is correct to say that through his processes of initiation the Christian esotericist attains the purification and cleansing of his astral body; he makes his astral body into the Virgin Sophia and is illuminated from above — if you wish, you may call it overshadowed — by the “Holy Spirit,” by the Cosmic, Universal Ego. And a person thus illuminated, who, in other words, according to esoteric Christianity has received the “Holy Spirit” into himself, speaks forthwith in a different manner. How does he speak? When he speaks about Saturn, Sun, and Moon, about the different members of the human being, about the processes of cosmic evolution, he is not expressing his own opinion. His views do not at all come into consideration. When such a person speaks about Saturn, it is Saturn itself that is speaking through him. When he speaks about the Sun, the Spiritual Being of the Sun speaks through him. He is the instrument. His personal ego has been eclipsed, which means that at such moments it has become impersonal and it is the Cosmic Universal Ego that is using his ego as its instrument through which to speak. Therefore, in true esoteric teaching which proceeds from esoteric Christianity, one should not speak of views or opinions, for in the highest sense of the word this is incorrect; there are no such things. According to esoteric Christianity, whoever speaks with the right attitude of mind toward the world will say to himself, for instance: If I tell people that there were two horses outside, the important thing is not that one of them pleases me less than the other and that I think one is a worthless horse. The important point is that I describe the horses to the others and give the facts. In like manner, what has been observed in the spiritual worlds must be described irrespective of all personal opinions. In every spiritual- scientific system of teaching, only the series of facts must be related and this must have nothing to do with the opinions of the one who relates them.
Thus we have acquired two concepts in their spiritual significance. We have learned to know the nature of the Virgin Sophia, which is the purified astral body, and the nature of the “Holy Spirit,” the Cosmic Universal Ego, which is received by the Virgin Sophia and which can then speak out of this purified astral body. There is something else to be attained, a still higher stage: that is the ability to help someone else, the ability to give him the impulse to accomplish both of these. Men of our evolutionary epoch can receive the Virgin Sophia (the purified astral body) and the Holy Spirit (illumination) in the manner described, but only Christ Jesus could give to the Earth what was necessary to accomplish this. He has implanted in the spiritual part of the Earth those forces which make it possible for that to happen at all which has been described in the Christian initiation. You may ask how did this come about?
Two things are necessary for an understanding of this. First we must make ourselves acquainted with something purely historical, that is, with the manner of giving of names, which was quite different in the age in which the Gospels were written from the way in which it is done at present.
Those who interpret the Gospel at present do not at all understand the principle of giving names at the time the Gospels were written and therefore they do not speak as they should. It is, in fact, exceedingly difficult to describe the principle of giving names at that time, yet we can make it comprehensible, even though we only indicate it in rough outlines. Let us suppose, in the case of someone whom we meet, that instead of holding to the name which does not at all fit him, and which has been given to him in the abstract way customary today, we were to harken to and notice his most distinguishing characteristics, were to notice the most prominent attribute of his character, and were in a position to discern clairvoyantly the deeper foundations of his being, then were to give him his name in accordance with those most important qualities which we believe should be attributed to him. Were we to follow such a method of giving names, we should be doing something, at a lower more elementary stage, similar to what was done at that time by those who gave names in the manner of the writer of the Gospel of St. John. In order to make very clear his manner of giving names, let us consider the following:
The author of the St. John's Gospel regarded the physical, historic mother of Jesus in her most prominent characteristics and asked himself, — Where shall I find a name for her which will express most perfectly her real being? Then, because she had, by means of her earlier incarnations, reached those spiritual heights upon which she stood; and because she appeared in her external personality to be a counterpart, a revelation, of what was called in esoteric Christianity the Virgin Sophia, he called the Mother of Jesus the “Virgin Sophia;” and this is what she was always called in the esoteric places where esoteric Christianity was taught. Exoterically he leaves her entirely un-named, in contradistinction to those others who have chosen for her the secular name Mary. He could not take the secular name, he had to express in the name the profound, world historic evolution. He does this by indicating that she cannot be called Mary, and what is more, he places by her side her sister Mary, wife of Cleophas, and calls her simply the “mother of Jesus.” He shows thereby that he does not wish to mention her name, that it cannot be publicly revealed. In esoteric circles she is always called the “Virgin Sophia.” It was she who represented the “Virgin Sophia” as an external historical personality.
If we now wish to penetrate further into the nature of Christianity and its founder, we must take under consideration yet another mystery. We should understand clearly how to make a distinction between the personality who in esoteric Christianit, was called “Jesus of Nazareth” and Him who was called “Christ Jesus,” the Christ dwelling within Jesus of Nazareth.
Now what does this mean? It means that in the historical personality of Jesus of Nazareth we have to do with a highly developed human being who had passed through many incarnations and after a cycle of high development was again reincarnated; a person who, because of this, was attracted to a mother so pure that the writer of the Gospel could call her the “Virgin Sophia.” Thus we are dealing with a highly developed human being, Jesus of Nazareth, who had progressed far in his evolution in his previous incarnations and in this incarnation had entered upon a highly spiritual stage. The other evangelists were not illuminated to such a high degree as the writer of this Gospel. It was more the actual sense-world that was revealed to them, a world in which they saw their Master and Messiah moving about as Jesus of Nazareth. The mysterious spiritual relationships, at least those of the heights into which the writer of the Gospel of St. John could peer, were concealed from them. For this reason they laid special emphasis upon the fact that in Jesus of Nazareth lived the Father, who had always existed in Judaism and was transmitted down through the generations as the God of the Jews. And they expressed this when they said: “If we trace back the ancestry of Jesus of Nazareth through generation after generation, we are able to prove that the same blood flows in Him that has flowed down through these generations.” The evangelists give the genealogical tables and precisely according to them they also show at what different stages of evolution they stand. For Matthew, the important thing is to show that in Jesus of Nazareth we have a person in whom Father Abraham is living. The blood of Father Abraham has flowed down through the generations as far as Jesus. He thus traces the genealogical tables back to Abraham. He has a more materialistic point of view than Luke. The important thing for Luke was not alone to show that the God who lived in Abraham was present in Jesus, but that the ancestry, the line of descent, can be traced back still further, even to Adam, and that Adam was a son of the very Godhead, which means that he belonged to the time when humanity had just made the transition from a spiritual to a physical state. Both Matthew and Luke wished to show that this earthly Jesus of Nazareth has his being only in what can be traced back to the divine Father-power. This was not a matter of importance for the writer of the Gospel of St. John, who could gaze into the spiritual world. The important thing for him was not the words “I and Father Abraham are one,” but that at every moment of time there exists in the human being an Eternal which was present in him before Father Abraham. This he wished to show. In the beginning was the Word which is called the “I AM.” Before all external things and beings, He was. He was in the beginning. For those who wished rather to describe Jesus of Nazareth and were only able to describe him, it was a question of showing how from the beginning the blood flowed down through the generations. It was important to them to show that the same blood flowing down through the generations flowed also in Joseph, the father of Jesus.
If we could speak quite esoterically it would naturally be necessary to speak of the idea of the so-called “virgin birth,” but this can be discussed only in the most intimate circles. It belongs to the deepest mysteries that exist and the misunderstanding connected with this idea arises because people do not know what is meant by the “virgin birth.” They think that it means there was no fatherhood. But it is not that; a much more profound, a more mysterious something lies at the back of it which is quite compatible with what the other disciples wish to show, that is, that Joseph is the father of Jesus. If they were to deny this, then all the trouble they take to show this to be a fact would be meaningless. They wish to show that the ancient God exists in Jesus of Nazareth. Luke especially wished to make this very clear, therefore he traces the whole ancestry back to Adam and then to God. How could he have come to this conclusion if he really wished only to say: I am showing you that this genealogical tree exists, but Joseph, as a matter of fact, had nothing to do with it. It would be very strange if people were to take the trouble to represent Joseph as a very important personality and then were to shove him aside out of the whole affair.
In the event of Palestine we have not only to do with this highly developed personality, Jesus of Nazareth, who had passed through many incarnations, and had developed himself so highly that he needed such an extraordinary mother as the Virgin Sophia, but we have also to do with a second mystery. When Jesus of Nazareth was thirty years of age, he had advanced to such a stage through what he had experienced in his present incarnation that he could perform an action which it is possible for one to perform in exceptional cases. We know that the human being consists of physical, etheric, and astral bodies and an ego. This fourfold human being is the human being as he lives here among us. If a person stands at a certain high stage of evolution, it is possible for him at a particular moment to draw out his ego from the three bodies and abandon them, leaving them intact and entirely uninjured. This ego then goes into the spiritual worlds and the three bodies remain behind. We meet this process at times in cosmic evolution. At some especially exalted, enraptured moment, the ego of a person departs and enters into the spirit world — under certain conditions this can be extended over a long period — and because the three bodies are so highly developed by the ego that lived in them, they are fit instruments for a still higher being who now takes possession of them. In the thirtieth year of Jesus of Nazareth, that Being whom we have called the Christ took possession of his physical, etheric, and astral bodies. This Christ Being could not incarnate in an ordinary child's body, but only in one which had first been prepared by a highly developed ego, for this Christ-Being had never before been incarnated in a physical body. Therefore from the thirtieth year on, we are dealing with the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth.
What in reality took place? The fact is that the corporality of Jesus of Nazareth which he had left behind was so mature, so perfect, that the Sun Logos, the Being of the six Elohim, which we have described as the spiritual Being of the Sun, was able to penetrate into it. It could incarnate for three years in this corporality, could become flesh. The Sun Logos, Who can shine into human beings through illumination, the Sun Logos Himself, the Holy Spirit, entered. The Universal Ego, the Cosmic Ego, entered and from then on during three years, the Sun Logos spoke through the body of Jesus. The Christ speaks through the body of Jesus during these three years. This event is indicated in the Gospel of St. John and also in the other Gospels as the descent of the dove, of the Holy Spirit, upon Jesus of Nazareth. In esoteric Christianity it is said that at that moment the ego of Jesus of Nazareth left his body, and that from then on the Christ is in him, speaking through him in order to teach and work. This is the first event that happens, according to the Gospel of St. John. We now have the Christ within the astral, etheric, and physical bodies of Jesus of Nazareth. There He worked as has been described until the Mystery of Golgotha occurred. What occurred on Golgotha? Let us consider that important moment when the blood flowed from the wounds of the crucified savior. In order that you may understand me better, I shall compare what occurred with something else.
Let us suppose we have here a vessel filled with water. In the water, salt is dissolved and the water becomes quite transparent. Because we have warmed the water, we have made a salt solution. Now let us cool the water. The salt precipitates and we see how the salt condenses below and forms a deposit at the bottom of the vessel. That is the process for one who sees only with physical eyes. But for a person who can see with spiritual eyes, something else is happening. While the salt is condensing below, the spirit of the salt streams up through the water, filling it. The salt can only become condensed when the spirit of the salt has departed from it and become diffused into the water. Those who understand these things know that wherever condensation takes place, a spiritualization also always occurs. What thus condenses below has its counterpart above in the spiritual, just as in the case of the salt, when it condenses and is precipitated below, its spirit streams upward and disseminates. Therefore, it was not only a physical process that took place when the blood flowed from the wounds of the savior, but it was actually accompanied by a spiritual process; that is, the Holy Spirit which was received at the Baptism united Itself with the Earth; that the Christ Himself flowed into the very being of the Earth. From now on, the Earth was changed, and this is the reason for saying to you, in earlier lectures, that if a person had viewed the Earth from a distant star, he would have observed that its whole appearance was altered with the Mystery of Golgotha. The Sun Logos became a part of the Earth, formed an alliance with it and became the Spirit of the Earth. This He achieved by entering into the body of Jesus of Nazareth in his thirtieth year, and by remaining active there for three years, after which He continued to remain on the Earth. Now the important thing is that this event must produce an effect upon the true Christian — that it must give something by which he may gradually develop the beginnings of a purified astral body in the Christian sense. There had to be something there for the Christian whereby he could make his astral body gradually more and more like a Virgin Sophia, and through it, receive into himself the Holy Spirit which was able to spread out over the entire Earth, but which could not be received by anyone whose astral body did not resemble the Virgin Sophia. There had to be something which possesses the power to transform the human astral body into a Virgin Sophia. What is this power? It consists in the fact of Christ Jesus entrusting to the Disciple whom He loved — in other words to the writer of the Gospel of St. John — the mission of describing truly and faithfully through his own illumination the events of Palestine in order that men might be affected by them. If men permit what is written in the Gospel of St. John to work sufficiently upon them, their astral body is in the process of becoming a Virgin Sophia and it will become receptive to the Holy Spirit. Gradually, through the strength of the impulse which emanates from this Gospel, it will become susceptible of feeling the true spirit and later of perceiving it. This mission, this charge, was given to the writer of the Gospel by Jesus Christ. You need but read the Gospel. The Mother of Jesus — the Virgin Sophia in the esoteric meaning of Christianity — stands at the foot of the Cross, and from the Cross the Christ says to the disciple whom He loved: “Henceforth, this is thy Mother” and from this hour the disciple took her unto himself. This means: “That force which was in My astral body and made it capable of becoming bearer of the Holy Spirit I now give over to thee; thou shalt write down what this astral body has been able to acquire through its development.” “And the disciple took her unto himself” — that means he wrote the Gospel of St. John. And this Gospel of St. John is the Gospel in which the writer has concealed powers which develop the Virgin Sophia. At the Cross, the mission was entrusted to him of receiving that force as his mother and of being the true, genuine interpreter of the Messiah. This really means that if you live wholly in accordance with the Gospel of St. John and understand it spiritually, it has the force to lead you to Christian katharsis, it has the power to give you the Virgin Sophia. Then will the Holy Spirit, united with the Earth, grant you illumination or photismos according to the Christian meaning. And what the most intimate disciples experienced there in Palestine was so powerful that from that time on they possessed at least the capacity of perceiving in the spiritual world. The most intimate disciples had received this capacity into themselves. Perceiving in the spirit, in the Christian sense, means that the person transforms his astral body to such a degree through the power of the Event of Palestine that what he sees need not be before him externally and physically-sensible. He possesses something by means of which he can perceive in the spirit. There were such intimate pupils. The woman who anointed the feet of Christ Jesus in Bethany had received through the Event of Palestine the powerful force needed for spiritual perception, and she is, for example, one of those who first understood that what had lived in Jesus was present after His death, that is, had been resurrected. She possessed this faculty. It may be asked: Whence came this possibility? It came through the development of her inner sense-organs. Are we told this in the Gospel? We are indeed; we are told that Mary Magdalene was led to the grave, that the body had disappeared and that she saw there two spiritual forms. These two spiritual forms are always to be seen when a corpse is present for a certain time after death. On the one side is to be seen the astral body, and on the other, what gradually separates from it as ether body, then passing over into the cosmic ether. Wholly apart from the physical body, there are two spiritual forms present which belong to the spiritual world.
Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white sitting.
She beheld this because she had become clairvoyant through the force and power of the Event of Palestine. And she beheld something more: she beheld the Risen Christ. Was it necessary for her to be clairvoyant to be able to behold the Christ? If you have seen a person in physical form a few days ago, do you not think you would recognize him again if he should appear before you?
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing it to be the gardener . ...
And in order that it might be told to us as exactly as possible, it was not only said once, but again at the next appearance of the Risen Christ, when Jesus appeared at the Sea of Gennesareth.
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
The esoteric pupils find Him there. Those who had received the full force of the Event of Palestine could grasp the situation and see that it was the Risen Jesus who could be perceived spiritually. Although the disciples and Mary Magdalene saw Him, yet there were some among them who were less able to develop clairvoyant power. One of these was Thomas. It is said that he was not present the first time the disciples saw the Lord, and he declared he would have to lay his hands in His wounds, he would have to touch physically the body of the Risen Christ. You ask: What happened? The effort was then made to assist him to develop spiritual perception. And how was this done? Let us take the words of the Gospel itself:
And after a week His disciples were again within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, reach hither thy fingers and behold My hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And thou shalt behold something if thou dost not rely upon the outer appearance, but art impregnated with inner power.
This inner power which should proceed from the Event of Palestine is called “Faith.” It is no ordinary force, but an inner clairvoyant power. Permeate thyself with inner power, then thou needest no longer hold as real that only which thou seest externally; for blessed are they who are able to know what they do not see outwardly!
Thus we see that we have to do with the full reality and truth of the Resurrection and that only those are fully able to understand it who have first developed the inner power to perceive in the spirit world. This will make the last chapter of the Gospel of St. John comprehensible to you, in which again and again it is pointed out that the closest followers of Christ Jesus have reached the stage of the Virgin Sophia, because the Event of Golgotha had been consummated in their presence. But when they had to stand firm for the first time, had actually to behold a spiritual event, they were still blinded and had first to find their way. They did not know that He was the same one Who had earlier been among them. Here is something which we must grasp with the most subtle concepts; for the grossly materialistic person would say: “Then the Resurrection is undermined!” The miracle of the Resurrection is to be taken quite literally, for He said: “Lo, I remain with you always, even unto the end of the age, unto the end of the cosmic age.”
He is there and will come again, although not in a form of flesh, but in a form in which those who have been sufficiently developed through the power of the Gospel of St. John can actually perceive Him, and possessing the power to perceive Him, they will no longer be unbelieving. The mission of the Spiritual Science Movement is to prepare those who have the will to allow themselves to be prepared, for the return of the Christ upon Earth. This is the cosmo-historical significance of Spiritual Science, to prepare mankind and to keep its eyes open for the time when the Christ will appear again actively among men in the sixth cultural epoch, in order that that may be accomplished for a great part of humanity which was indicated to us in the Marriage at Cana.
Therefore the world-concept obtained from Spiritual Science appears like an execution of the testament of Christianity. In order to be led to real Christianity the men of the future will have to receive that spiritual teaching which Spiritual Science is able to give. Many people may still say today: Spiritual Science is something that really contradicts true Christianity. But those are the little popes who form opinions about things of which they know nothing and who make into a dogma: What I do not know does not exist.
This intolerance will become greater and greater in the future and Christianity will experience the greatest danger just from those people who, at present, believe they can be called good Christians. The Christianity of Spiritual Science will experience serious attacks from the Christians in name, for all concepts must change if a true spiritual understanding of Christianity is to come about. Above all, the soul must become more and more conversant with and understanding of the legacy of the writer of the Gospel of St. John, the great school of the Virgin Sophia, the St. John's Gospel itself. Only Spiritual Science can lead us deeper into this Gospel.
In these lectures, only examples could be given showing how Spiritual Science can introduce us into the Gospel of St. John, for it is impossible to explain the whole of it. We read in the Gospel itself:
And there are also many other things which Jesus did; and I suppose that were they all written down one after the other, the world could not contain all the books that would have to be written.
Just as the Gospel itself cannot go into all the details of the Event of Palestine, so too is it impossible for even the longest course of lectures to present the full spiritual content of the Gospel. Therefore we must be satisfied with those indications which could be given at this time; we must content ourselves with the thought that through just such indications in the course of human evolution, the true testament of Christianity becomes executed. Let us allow all this to have such an effect upon us that we may possess the power to hold fast to the foundation which we recognize in the Gospel of St. John, when others come to us and say: You are giving us too complicated concepts, too many concepts which we must first make our own in order to comprehend this Gospel: the Gospel is for the simple and naive and one dare not approach them with many concepts and thoughts. Many say this today. They perhaps refer to another saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” One can merely quote such a saying as long as one does not understand it, for it really says: “Blessed are the beggars in spirit, for they shall reach the kingdom of heaven within themselves.” This means that those who are like beggars of the spirit, who desire to receive more and more of the spirit, will find in themselves the kingdom of heaven!
At the present time the idea is all too prevalent that everything religious is identical with all that is primitive and simple. People say: We acknowledge that Science possesses many and complicated ideas, but we do not grant the same to Faith and Religion. Faith and Religion — so say many “Christians” — must be simple and naive! They demand this. And many rely upon a conception which is little quoted perhaps, but which in the present is haunting the minds of men and which Voltaire, one of the great teachers of materialism, has expressed in the words: “Whoever wishes to be a prophet must find believers, for what he asserts must be believed, and only what is simple, what is always repeated in its simplicity, that alone finds believers.”
This is often so with the prophets, both true and false. They take the trouble to say something and to repeat it again and again and the people learn to believe it, because it is constantly repeated. The representative of Spiritual Science desires to be no such prophet. He does not wish to be a prophet at all. And although it may often be said: “Yes, you not only repeat, but you are always elucidating things from other sides, you are always discussing them in other ways;” when they speak thus to him, he is guilty of no fault. A prophet wishes that people believe in him. Spiritual Science has no desire to lead to belief, but to knowledge. Therefore let us take Voltaire's utterance in another way. He says: — “The simple is believed and is the concern of the prophet.” Spiritual Science says: — the manifold is known. Let us try to understand more and more that Spiritual Science is something that is manifold — not a creed, but a path to knowledge, and consequently it bears within it the manifold. Therefore let us not shrink from collecting a great deal in order that we may understand one of the most important Christian documents, the Gospel of St. John. We have attempted to assemble the most varied material which places us in the position of being able to understand more and more the profound truths of this Gospel; able to understand how the physical mother of Jesus was an external manifestation, an external image, of the Virgin Sophia; to understand what spiritual importance the Virgin Sophia had for the pupil of the Mysteries, whom the Christ loved; again to understand how, for the other Evangelists — who view the bodily descent of Jesus as important — the physical father plays his significant part when it was a question of the external imprint of the God-idea in the blood; and further, to understand what significance the Holy Spirit had for John, the Holy Spirit through which the Christ was begotten in the body of Jesus and dwelt therein during the three years and which is symbolized for us in the descent of the Dove at the Baptism by John.
If we understand that we must call the father of Christ Jesus the Holy Spirit who begot the Christ in the bodies of Jesus, then if we are able to comprehend a thing from all sides, we shall find it easy to understand that those disciples who were less highly initiated could not give us so profound a picture of the Events of Palestine as the disciple whom the Lord loved. And if people, at present, speak of the Synoptics — which are the only authoritative Gospels for them — this only shows that they do not have the will to rise to an understanding of the true form of the Gospel of St. John. For everybody resembles the God he understands. If we try to make into a feeling, into an experience, what we can learn from Spiritual Science about the Gospel of St. John, we shall then find that this Gospel is not a textbook, but a force which can be active within our souls.
If these short lectures have aroused in you the feeling that this Gospel contains not only what we have been discussing here but that indirectly, through the medium of words, it contains the force which can develop the soul itself further, then what was really intended in these lectures has been rightly understood. Because in them not only was something intended for the understanding, for the intellectual capacity of understanding, but that which takes its round-about path through this intellectual capacity of understanding should condense into feelings and inner experiences, and these feelings and experiences should be a result of the facts that have been presented here. If, in a certain sense, this has been rightly understood, we shall also comprehend what is meant when it is said that the Movement for Spiritual Science has the mission of raising Christianity into Wisdom, of rightly understanding Christianity, indirectly through spiritual wisdom. We shall understand that Christianity is only in the beginning of its activity, and its true mission will be fulfilled when it is understood in its true spiritual form. The more these lectures are understood in this way the more have they been comprehended in the sense in which they were intended.
Thank you, John Ayre!