The Gospel of Luke. Lecture 7 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Basel, September 21, 1909:
In the foregoing lectures we have tried to gain some idea of the most important figures in the Gospel of St. Luke. Although far-reaching conceptions of the facts underlying this Gospel have been acquired, it still remains for us to follow the further development of the central being of our Earth — Christ Jesus Himself.
To begin with it will be necessary to recall that Christ Jesus, as He is afterwards described in the Gospel of St. Luke, was born — or rather His physical body was born — as the Nathan Jesus of the House of David. At about his twelfth year there passed into the body of this child the ego once incarnated in the being who had been the inaugurator of the ancient Persian civilization. Thus from the twelfth year onwards the ego of Zarathustra was living in the body of the Nathan Jesus, and we must now follow the development of this being more closely, bearing in mind something for which our previous studies have prepared us.
We know that in normal cases the first and second septenaries of human life are important periods of development; a third period follows, from puberty (the fourteenth year) to the twenty-first year; another from the twenty-first to the twenty-eighth; and again another from the twenty-eighth to the thirty-fifth year. These divisions of time are not, of course, to be taken so pedantically that they are thought to end exactly at the ages specified, but when the second dentition takes place an important transition in the development of the human being occurs, approximately at the close of the seventh year.
This transition does not come about suddenly, but gradually, during the period of the change of teeth. During the other periods too, the process is a gradual one. As is described in greater detail in my book The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy, the close of the seventh year is marked by a spiritual occurrence which in some respects resembles physical birth: a kind of etheric birth then takes place. In the fourteenth year, at puberty, there is an astral birth: the astral body of the human being becomes free. If followed with close attention and with the eyes of spirit, the development of the human being shows itself to be a very complicated process. Ordinary observation fails to notice many important differences in human life — differences which also become evident in more advanced years. It is usually thought that from a certain point of time onwards, few if any changes take place in the human being, but this idea arises from very rough and ready observation. The truth is that closer scrutiny can perceive certain differences taking place even in the later years of human life.
When the physical environment of the mother's body is abandoned at birth, the part of the human being then born is really his physical body only; what comes to the fore during the first seven years is the physical body. In various lectures on the education of children the great importance of this knowledge for the teacher has been emphasized. Then, when the etheric sheath has been discarded, the etheric body is set free. Again, in the fourteenth year, when the astral sheath is discarded, the astral body is set free. Strictly speaking, however, the constitution of the human being cannot be fully understood unless the organization indicated in my book Theosophy is taken as a basis. There you will find that a further distinction is made in the soul elements of human nature. Immediately connected with the life-body (etheric body) is what is called the sentient (astral) body, which does not become completely free as regards the outer world until about the twenty-first year. Then what is called the sentient soul becomes gradually free. At the twenty-eighth year the intellectual or mind-soul (Gemütseele) becomes free, and later the spiritual soul (or consciousness-soul). This applies to the human being of today. Observation of human life guided by spiritual science clearly reveals these stages of development. The great leaders and leading figures of humanity have also known why the thirty-fifth year is so important. Dante was aware why he made particular mention of his thirty-fifth year as the time when he had the visions set down in his great poem. At the very beginning of the Divine Comedy there is an indication to this effect. At the age of thirty-five man's being has progressed to the point where the can make full use of the faculties dependent upon the sentient (astral) body, the sentient soul, and the intellectual or mind-soul.
Those who have spoken of man strictly in accordance with the process of evolution in the West have always recognized this classification. In Orientals the periods are not exactly the same. Hence in the case of Oriental civilization it was quite correct not to make the same classification as in the West where it has always been the right one. The Greeks, for instance, merely used different words to express what now concerns us. When speaking of the element of soul in man, they began with what we call the life-body (etheric body) and called it ‘treptikon’; for what we call the sentient (astral) body they used the very expressive word ‘aisthetikon’; our sentient soul they called ‘orektikon’; the intellectual or mind-soul, ‘kinetikon’; and the most precious possession now being acquired by man, the spiritual soul, they called ‘dianoetikon’. Such is the development of the human being when considered in detail.
Owing to certain conditions that will become clearer to us today, the development of the Nathan Jesus was somewhat accelerated — a fact also rendered possible because in those regions puberty was reached at an earlier age.
In the case of the Nathan Jesus there were very special reasons why the change usually occurring in the fourteenth year should take place in the twelfth. So too the other changes connected with the twenty-first, twenty-eighth, and thirty-fifth years came about in his nineteenth, twenty-sixth, and thirty-third years respectively. This indicates in broad outline the development of the central figure of our Earth.
It must be borne in mind that up to the twelfth year the physical body was that of the Nathan Jesus, but that after the twelfth year the ego of Zarathustra was living in that body. What does this mean? It means that from the twelfth year onwards, this mature ego was working upon the sentient (astral) body, the sentient soul, and the mind-soul of the Nathan Jesus, elaborating these members in a way possible only to an ego of great maturity — an ego that had undergone the destinies of the Zarathustra individuality through many incarnations. We therefore meet with the wonderful fact that the ego of Zarathustra passed into the body of the Nathan Jesus in the twelfth year of life and elaborated the faculties of the soul to the highest degree of excellence. Thus there developed a sentient body able to gaze into the cosmos and experience something of the spiritual nature of Ahura Mazdao; there developed a sentient soul able to harbor the knowledge and wisdom based on the teaching concerning Ahura Mazdao; and there developed a mind-soul able to apprehend, to formulate in intelligible concepts and words, that which men had hitherto been able to acquire only through spiritual currents flowing into them from outside.
The Nathan Jesus, having within him the Zarathustra ego, lived on until his thirtieth year was approaching. The event that had occurred when he was twelve, when his inmost nature was filled with a new egohood, now took place again — but this time on an infinitely more sublime, more universal scale. Towards the thirtieth year the Zarathustra ego had accomplished its work in the soul of the Nathan Jesus; the faculties of this soul had been developed to the highest possible degree and the mission of the Zarathustra ego was thus fulfilled. Having instilled into the soul all the faculties he had acquired through his own previous incarnations, Zarathustra could declare: ‘My task is now accomplished!’ — and a moment came when his ego left the body of the Nathan Jesus.
The Zarathustra ego had lived in the body of the Solomon Jesus until the twelfth year. No further development in earthly existence would thereafter have been possible for this boy. Because the Zarathustra ego had gone out of him, his development came to a standstill at the point reached at that time, although exceptional maturity had been attained owing to the presence of such a highly advanced ego. Anyone observing the Solomon Jesus child would have found him prematurely advanced to a conspicuous degree; but from the moment the Zarathustra ego left him he came to a standstill and could make no further progress. And when — comparatively soon — the mother of the Nathan Jesus died and the spiritual part of her being was translated into the spiritual world, she took with her what was of eternal value and formative power in the Solomon Jesus child. This child also died — at about the same time as the mother of the Nathan Jesus.
It was an etheric sheath of utmost value which then left the body of the Solomon Jesus. As we know, the development of the etheric body takes place mainly between the seventh year of life and puberty. This was an etheric body that had been worked upon and elaborated by the forces of the Zarathustra ego. In normal human existence, when the etheric body leaves the physical body at death, everything that is of no eternal use is discarded and the human being takes with him a kind of extract of the etheric body. In the case of the child of the Solomon line the etheric body was of eternal use in the fullest possible sense and the whole life-body of this child was taken by the mother of the Nathan Jesus with her into the spiritual world.
Now, the etheric body forms and shapes the physical body of man, and it is not difficult to realize that there was a very deep connection between this etheric body of the Solomon Jesus which had been translated into the spiritual world, and the Zarathustra ego; for this ego and etheric body had been united until the twelfth year of earthly life. And when the Zarathustra ego left the body of Jesus of Nazareth, the power of attraction between this ego and the original etheric body in the Solomon Jesus asserted itself. The maturity of the Zarathustra ego was such that a further passage through Devachan was unnecessary, and after a comparatively short time this ego was able, in conjunction with his former etheric body, to build up a new physical body. This resulted in the birth of the being who thereafter appeared again and again, always with relatively short intervals between physical death and rebirth; whenever this being left the physical body at death, he soon appeared again on the Earth in a new incarnation. Having sought and found the etheric body he had once relinquished in the circumstances indicated, this being went on his way through history as the ‘Master Jesus’, becoming, as you can well imagine, the great helper of those who have endeavored to understand the Event of Palestine. Thus it was the Zarathustra ego, Zarathustra himself, who having found his etheric body again began to move through the evolution of mankind as the Master Jesus, incarnating again and again to give guidance and direction to the spiritual stream of Christianity. He is the inspirer of those who strive to understand Christianity in its living growth and development; within the esoteric schools he inspired those whose perpetual duty it was to cultivate the teachings of Christianity. He stands behind the great spiritual figures of Christianity, ever teaching what the great Event of Palestine signifies.
Having indwelt the body of the Nathan Jesus from the twelfth to the thirtieth year, the Zarathustra ego was henceforth outside that body, and another being descended into it. This happened, as all the Gospels relate, at the Baptism by John in the Jordan, when an ego of untold sublimity entered into the Nathan Jesus in place of the Zarathustra ego. In the lectures on the Gospel of St. John, [ 1 ] attention was drawn to the fact that ‘baptism’ in those olden days was something very different from the mere symbol which it became later on. It was also enacted differently by John the Baptist. The body of one who was baptized was completely submerged in the water. You know from preparatory lectures that a definite experience may be connected with such a happening. Even in everyday existence it may happen that when a man is in danger of drowning, or sustains a violent shock, a tableau of his life hitherto appears before him. This is because something that otherwise takes place only after death, occurs momentarily: the etheric body is lifted out of the physical body and is freed from its power. This happened to most of those who were baptized by John, and in a very special way to the Nathan Jesus. His etheric body was drawn out — and during that moment the sublime being we call the Christ descended into his body.
Thus from the time of the Baptism, the Nathan Jesus was filled with the Christ being, as is indicated in the words contained in the earlier Gospel records: ‘This is my well-beloved Son; this day have I begotten Him!’ — meaning: the Son of Heaven, the Christ, is now begotten — begotten of the all-pervading Godhead and received into the body and whole constitution of the Nathan Jesus, who had been prepared to receive the seed from heavenly heights. ‘This is my well-beloved Son; this day have I begotten Him!’ — These were the words contained in the earlier manuscripts and this is how they ought still to stand in the Gospels. (Luke III, 22.)
Who is this Being who united at that time with the etheric body of the Nathan Jesus?
The Christ being cannot be understood if we think of Earth evolution alone. The Christ is the leader of those spiritual beings who left with the Sun when it separated from the Earth and established for themselves this higher sphere of action in order to work upon the Earth from outside. If we think back to the pre-Christian period of Earth evolution, from the time of the separation of the Sun until the appearance of Christ, we must say: When men looked up to the Sun with mature faculties they would have recognized the truth of what Zarathustra taught, namely that the light and warmth streaming from the Sun are but the physical vestment of the spiritual beings behind the Sun's light; for behind the physical phenomena are hidden the spiritual rays of power which stream from the Sun to the Earth. The leader of all the beings who send their beneficent influences from the Sun to the Earth is He who was later called Christ. In pre-Christian times, therefore, this being was not to be sought on Earth but on the Sun. And Zarathustra rightly called Him ‘Ahura Mazdao’, saying in effect: ‘On the Earth we do not find the Light-Spirit; but when we look up to the Sun we behold the spiritual Being — Ahura Mazdao — who has his habitation there. The light that streams to us is the body of the Sun-Spirit, Ahura Mazdao, even as the human physical body is the body of the human spirit. But in the course of great happenings in the cosmos this sublime being drew ever nearer to the Earth sphere; His approach could be perceived more and more distinctly by clairvoyance, and was unmistakable when in the flame of lightning on Mount Sinai the revelations came to Moses, the great forerunner of Christ Jesus.
What did these revelations to Moses signify? They signified that the Christ being, while approaching the Earth, was revealing Himself — in reflection to begin with — as if in a mirror image. Let us consider, in its spiritual aspect, the process in evidence at every full Moon. When we look at the full Moon we see the rays of the Sun in reflection. It is sunlight that streams towards us, only we call it moonlight because we see it reflected by the Moon. What being did Moses behold in the burning bush and in the fire on Sinai? He beheld the Christ! But just as the sunlight is not seen directly but reflected from the Moon, so did Moses see the Christ in reflection. And as we call the sunlight ‘moonlight’ when we see it reflected from the Moon, Christ was called at that time Jahve, or Jehovah. Jahve or Jehovah is the reflection of the Christ before He Himself appeared on Earth. Christ announced Himself thus indirectly to a humanity as yet unable to behold Him in his immediate reality, just as the sunlight manifests itself through the rays of the Moon in the otherwise dark night of full Moon. Jahve or Jehovah is the Christ — but seen as reflected light, not directly.
The faculties of human cognition and perception were to come within nearer and nearer range of the Christ. Having previously manifested His presence to the initiates from the cosmos, He was now Himself to tread the Earth for a season as a man among men. But this could not come to pass until the right time had arrived. That Christ is a reality has always been known wherever men have steeped themselves in the wisdom of the world, and because He has revealed Himself in so many different ways He has been called by diverse names. Zarathustra called Him ‘Ahura Mazdao’ because He revealed Himself in the raiment of the Sun's light. The great teachers of humanity in ancient India during the first period after the Atlantean catastrophe — the holy Rishis — had known full well of this being, for they were initiates. They knew too that in their epoch He was beyond the range of earthly wisdom and would be accessible to it only later on. Hence it was said that this being was beyond the sphere of the seven Rishis. ‘Vishva Karman’ was the name given to Him. The Rishis taught of the being whom they called ‘Vishva Karman’ and Zarathustra called ‘Ahura Mazdao’. Vishva Karman and Ahura Mazdao were two of the names for this being, who was gradually approaching the Earth from heights of spirit, from cosmic realms.
But preparation had to be made in the evolution of humanity to ensure the existence of a body fit to receive this being. It was necessary for a being such as had lived in Zarathustra to mature from incarnation to incarnation in order that in a body as pure as that of Jesus of Nazareth he could bring the faculties of the sentient body, of the sentient soul, and of the mind-soul to the degree of perfection that would render this human being fit to receive into himself so sublime a being. Such preparation had to be made. Before a sentient soul and a mind-soul could be adequately developed it was necessary that an ego should first have undergone the many experiences and destinies of Zarathustra and then transform the faculties present in the Nathan Jesus. This would not have been possible at any earlier time, for the Nathan Jesus child had to be worked upon not only by the Zarathustra ego but also by the lofty spiritual power we have characterized as the Nirmanakaya of Buddha. From the child's birth until his twelfth year this power worked chiefly from outside. But the Bodhisattva himself had had first to become Buddha before he was able to develop in himself the spiritual body, the Nirmanakaya, wherewith to work upon the Nathan Jesus during this period of his life. At the time of the incarnation in the course of which he was destined to become Buddha he had not yet acquired this power; the Buddha life had first to be lived through.
Some day, when humanity understands what deep wisdom has been preserved in many ancient legends, it will be found that everything deciphered from the akashic chronicle is contained in a wonderful way in those legends. We are told, and rightly told, that in ancient India too, men were taught of Christ as a cosmic being beyond the sphere of the seven holy Rishis. The Rishis knew that He dwelt in lofty spiritual regions and was only gradually approaching the Earth. Zarathustra too knew that he must turn his gaze from the Earth to the Sun; and the ancient Hebrews, because of the faculties and attributes indicated in the last lecture, were the first people to whom the proclamation of the Christ being in His reflection could be made.
We are also told in a legend how the Bodhisattva, when about to become Buddha, came into spiritual contact with Vishva Karman — the being who was later called Christ. The legend relates that when his twenty-ninth year was approaching the Bodhisattva made his famous exit from the palace where he had been strictly guarded and fostered. Then he saw, first, an old man, then a sick man, then a corpse, thus becoming gradually aware of the miseries of life. Then he saw a monk who had forsaken this life with its accompanying phenomena of old age, sickness, and death. Thereupon — so it is related in this profoundly true legend — he resolved not to leave the palace immediately but to return once more. But during this first departure from the palace — so runs the legend — he was invested from spiritual heights with the power which the Divine Artificer, Vishva Karman, who appeared to him, sent down to the Earth. The Bodhisattva was invested with the power of Vishva Karman, of Christ. Thus for the Bodhisattva, Christ was a being outside — not yet united with him. At that time the Bodhisattva too had nearly reached his thirtieth year, but he could not then have made it possible for Christ to be received in the fullest sense into a human body. He had first to become sufficiently mature, and this stage was attained through his Buddha existence. And when, later on, he appeared in the Nirmanakaya, his task was to make the body of the Nathan Jesus — in which he was not himself embodied — fit to receive Vishva Karman, the Christ.
In this way the forces in earthly evolution had worked in concert to bring about the great Event. It is now on our lips to ask: What is the relationship of Christ, of Vishva Karman, to beings such as the Bodhisattvas, of whom the Bodhisattva who afterwards became Buddha was one?
This question brings us to the threshold of one of the greatest mysteries of Earth evolution. Generally speaking, it will be difficult for the feelings and perceptive faculties of men at the present time to have even an inkling of what lies behind this mystery. The mission of the Bodhisattva who became Buddha was to incorporate into humanity the principle of compassion and love. Twelve such beings are connected with the cosmos to which the Earth belongs. The Bodhisattva who became Buddha in the fifth/sixth century B.C. is one of these twelve, all of whom have specific missions: Just as the mission of this particular Bodhisattva was to bring to the Earth the teaching of compassion and love, the other Bodhisattvas too have their missions, which must be fulfilled in the different epochs of Earth evolution. Gautama Buddha's connection with the mission of the Earth is especially close inasmuch as the development of the moral sense is precisely the task of our own epoch — from the time when the Bodhisattva appeared five to six centuries B.C. to the time when the Bodhisattva who succeeded him in that office will live on Earth as the Maitreya Buddha. That is how Earth evolution advances; the Bodhisattvas descend and have to incorporate into evolution from time to time what constitutes the object of their mission.
A survey of the whole of Earth evolution would reveal that there are twelve such Bodhisattvas. They belong to that great community of spirits which from time to time sends one of the Bodhisattvas to the Earth as a special emissary, as one of the great Teachers. A lodge of twelve Bodhisattvas is to be regarded as the lodge directing all Earth evolution. The concept of ‘Teacher’ familiar to us at lower stages of existence can be applied, in essentials, to these twelve Bodhisattvas. They are Teachers, the great inspirers of one portion or another of what mankind has to acquire.
Whence do these Bodhisattvas receive what they have to proclaim from epoch to epoch? — If you were able to look into the great Spirit Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas you would find that in the midst of the Twelve there is a Thirteenth — one who cannot be called a ‘Teacher’ in the same sense as the Bodhisattvas, but of whom we must say: He is that being from whom wisdom itself streams as very substance. It is therefore quite correct to speak of the twelve Bodhisattvas in the great Spirit Lodge grouped around One who is their Center; they are wrapt in contemplation of the sublime being from whom there streams what they have then to inculcate into Earth evolution in fulfillment of their missions. Thus there streams from the Thirteenth what the others have to teach. They are the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Inspirers’; the Thirteenth is himself the being of whom the others teach, whom they proclaim from epoch to epoch. This Thirteenth is He whom the ancient Rishis called Vishva Karman, whom Zarathustra called Ahura Mazdao, whom we call the Christ. He is the Leader and Guide of the great Lodge of the Bodhisattvas. Hence the content of the proclamation made through the whole choir of the Bodhisattvas is the teaching concerning Christ, once called Vishva Karman. The Bodhisattva who became Buddha five to six centuries before our era was endowed with the powers of Vishva Karman. The Nathan Jesus who received the Christ into himself was not merely ‘endowed’ but ‘anointed’ — that is to say, permeated through and through by Vishva Karman, by Christ.
This mystery was portrayed in a symbol or in a picture wherever men had an inkling of the great secrets of evolution or acquired knowledge of them through initiation. In the little-known, enigmatic Trottic Mysteries of northern Europe before the coming of Christianity, an earthly symbol of the spiritual reality of the Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas was created. Those who were Teachers were always associated with a community of twelve. It was for the Twelve to proclaim the message, and there was a Thirteenth who did not teach but who through his very presence radiated the wisdom which the others received. This was the picture on Earth of a heavenly, spiritual reality. Again, in Goethe's poem Die Geheimnisse [ 2 ] where the poet has given an indication of his Rosicrucian inspiration, we are reminded how Twelve sit around a Thirteenth who is not necessarily a great Teacher. Brother Mark, in his simplicity, is himself to be addressed by the Twelve as the Thirteenth — when the former Thirteenth shall have left them. He is to be the bringer not of teaching but of the spiritual substance itself. And it was the same wherever an inkling or actual knowledge of this lofty spiritual fact existed among men.
The Baptism by John in the Jordan marked the point of time in the evolution of humanity when this heavenly ‘Thirteenth’ — as spiritual substance itself — appeared on the Earth. This was the being of whom all others — Bodhisattvas and Buddhas — had had to teach, and for whose descent into a human body such stupendous preparations had been necessary. That is the mystery of the Baptism in the Jordan. The being is He who is described in the Gospels: Vishva Karman, Ahura Mazdao, or the Christ, as He was called later on when in the body of the Nathan Jesus. As Christ, this being was to tread the Earth in human form for three years, a man among men, within that purified terrestrial being who up to his thirtieth year had undergone all the experiences of which we have heard in these lectures. The being formerly hidden in the light- and warmth-giving rays of the Sun streaming down from the cosmos, the being, that is, who had gone with the Sun when it separated from the Earth, now descended into the Nathan Jesus.
We may now ask another question: Why was the union of this being with the evolution of humanity on the Earth so long postponed? Why had He not descended at an earlier time to the Earth? Why had He not penetrated before into a human etheric body, as He did at the Baptism by John in the Jordan?
This will be intelligible to us if we grasp the nature of the happening described in the Old Testament as the ‘Fall into Sin’. During the epoch of ancient Lemuria, certain beings insinuated themselves into the human astral body — they were beings who had remained at the stage of Old Moon evolution. The human astral body was permeated at that time by the Luciferic beings, and this is presented pictorially as the Fall into Sin in Paradise. Because these forces penetrated into his astral body, man became more deeply entangled in the things of the Earth than would otherwise have been the case. Had he not been subject to the Luciferic influence he would have been less deeply entangled in earthly matter. Consequently he descended to the Earth earlier than was originally intended. Now if nothing else had intervened, if nothing had taken place except what has just been indicated, the Luciferic forces anchored in the human astral body would have taken effect in the etheric body as well. But it was essential for the cosmic powers to take special measures to prevent this. In the book Occult Science — an Outline [ 3 ] the subject is dealt with from a different aspect. Man might not remain as he was after the Luciferic forces had penetrated into his astral body. He had to be protected against the effect of the forces upon his etheric body. This end was achieved at that time by making it impossible for him to use the whole of his etheric body, part of it being removed from his arbitrary control. If this beneficent deed of the Gods had not been accomplished, if man had retained power over the whole of his etheric body, he could never have found his right path through Earth evolution. Certain parts of the human etheric body had at that time to be withdrawn in order to be preserved for later times. Let us try to picture what this means.
Man's physical body — as everything else that is physical — is composed of the elements also to be found in the world outside: the ‘earthy’ or solid, the ‘watery’ or fluid, and the ‘airy’ or gaseous. The etheric realm begins with the first state of ether — the ‘fire-ether’ or simply ‘fire’. Fire or warmth, regarded by modern physics merely as motion and non-substantial, is the first state of the ether. The second is the ‘light-ether’, or simply ‘light’. And the third state — sound, tone, or number — is one that is not revealed to man in its original form at all; it is only a reflection, as it were a shadow of this ether that can be perceived in the physical world as tone or sound. Behind external sound, however, there lies something of a finer etheric nature, something spiritual. Physical tone or sound is a mere phantom of spiritual tone, of ‘sound-ether’ or also ‘number-ether’. The fourth etheric realm is the ‘life-ether’ — that which underlies actual life.
As physical man is constituted today, everything that is of the nature of soul expresses itself in his physical and etheric constitution, but is also connected with certain etheric substances. What we call ‘will’ expresses itself etherically in what we call ‘fire’. Anyone who is at all sensitive to certain sentient experiences will be aware that there is justification for saying that the will, which expresses itself physically in the blood, lives in the fire element of the etheric; physically, the will expresses itself in the blood, that is to say in the movement of the blood. What we call ‘feeling’ expresses itself in the part of the etheric body that corresponds to the light-ether. Because this is so, a clairvoyant sees the will impulses of a man flashing like flames through his etheric body and raying into his astral body; and he sees the feelings as forms of light. But the thinking that is experienced by man in his soul as his own, and expressed in words, is only a phantom of thinking — as you will readily believe, because physical sound too is only a phantom of something higher. Words have their organ in the sound-ether; our thoughts underlie our words; words are forms of expression for thoughts. These forms of expression fill etheric space inasmuch as they send their vibrations through the sound-ether; ‘tone’ or ‘sound’ is only the shadow of the actual thought-vibrations. The inner essence of all our thoughts, that which endows our thoughts with meaning (Sinn), actually belongs, in respect of its etheric nature, to the life-ether itself.
Meaning (Sinn) .................... Life-Ether Thinking .......................... Tone- or Sound-Ether
Feeling ........................... Light-Ether Will .............................. Fire-Ether Air Water Earth
In the Lemurian epoch, after the onset of the Luciferic influence, of these four forms of ether only the two lower (light-ether and fire-ether) were left at the free, abitrary disposal of man; the two higher kinds of ether were withdrawn from him. That is the inner meaning of the passage where it is said that when, as a result of the Luciferic influence, men had become able to distinguish between good and evil (pictorially expressed as eating of the ‘Tree of Knowledge’), the ‘Tree of Life’ was kept out of their reach. That is to say, the power freely and arbitrarily to penetrate the thought-ether and the sense-ether (‘meaning’-ether) was withdrawn from them.
The conditions of man's development were therefore necessarily as follows. His will was given into his power to assert as his ‘personal’ expression; the same applies to his feelings. Both feeling and will are at man's personal disposal. Hence the individual character of the world of feeling and the world of will. This individual character, however, ceases immediately we pass from feeling to thinking — yes, even to the expression of thoughts, to the words on the physical plane. Whereas each man's feeling and will are personal, we immediately come into something universal when we rise into the realm of words and the realm of thoughts. No one individual can form thoughts that are his alone. If thoughts were as individual as feelings we should never understand one another. Thus thought and ‘meaning’ (Sinn) were withheld from the power of arbitrary human will and preserved for the time being in the world of the Gods, in order not to be given to man until a later time. Everywhere on the Earth, therefore, we can find individual men with individual feelings and individual impulses of will, but thinking is uniform everywhere and language is uniform among the several peoples. Where there is a common language, there reigns a common Folk-Deity. This sphere is withheld from the arbitrary power of man, remaining for the time being a field into which the Gods work.
When Zarathustra, with his pupils around him, spoke of the realm of spirit, he could say: ‘Out of heaven there streams down warmth, or fire; out of heaven there streams down light. These are the vestments of Ahura Mazdao. But behind these vestments is hidden that which has not yet descended but has remained above in spiritual heights, casting only a shadow in the physical thoughts and words of men.’ Behind the warmth and light of the Sun is hidden that which lives in tone or sound, in meaning, manifesting itself only to those who are able to see behind the light that which is related to the earthly word as the heavenly Word is related to the part of Life that was withheld for the time being from humanity. Hence Zarathustra said: ‘Look upwards to Ahura Mazdao; see how He reveals Himself in the physical raiment of light and warmth. But behind all that is the Divine, Creative Word — and it is approaching the Earth!’
What is Vishva Karman? What is Ahura Mazdao? What is Christ in His true form? The Divine, Creative Word! Hence in Zarathustra's teaching the momentous communication is made that he was initiated in order not only to apprehend in the light the being he called Ahura Mazdao, but also the Divine, Creative Word, Honover, which was to descend to the Earth — and for the first time did descend into an individual etheric body at the Baptism by John. The Divine-Spiritual Word which had been preserved since the Lemurian epoch came forth from ethereal heights at the Baptism by John and entered into the etheric body of the Nathan Jesus. And when the Baptism was completed, what was it that had happened? The Word had become Flesh!
What had Zarathustra, or those who had knowledge of his Mysteries, proclaimed? As seers they had proclaimed the ‘Word’ that is hidden behind the warmth and the light. They were ‘servants of the Word’. And the writer of the Gospel of St. Luke recorded what the ‘seers’ proclaimed — those who had become ‘servants of the Word’.
This example again shows us that the Gospels must be taken literally. What had been withheld from men for so long because of the Luciferic influence, became flesh in a single personality, descended to the Earth and lived on the Earth. Hence this Being is the great prototype of all those who by degrees will understand His nature. Our wisdom on Earth must follow the lead of the Bodhisattvas, whose unceasing task it is to proclaim the Thirteenth among them. All spiritual science, all our wisdom, all our knowledge, must be devoted to understanding the nature of Vishva Karman, of Ahura Mazdao, of CHRIST.
Notes:1. Lecture-Course entitled The Gospel of St. John in relation to the other Gospels, especially to the Gospel of St. Luke.2. See the lecture entitled The Mysteries. Given at Cologne, 25th December 1907.
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